BEIRUT: The Beirut Traders Association reiterated Wednesday their rejection of proposed tax hikes on 60 luxury goods – part of a plan to fund planned public-sector wage hikes – warning it would deal a further blow to the retail industry.
“Citizens and the economy cannot bear any tax hikes, especially today when we are fighting on many fronts,” said Nicolas Chammas, head of the association.
The Finance Ministry, Chammas said, is suggesting to raise the value added tax and customs fees to cover LL1 trillion ($666 million) of additional expenditures needed to fund a long-awaited plan to boost public sector wages.
“But the total revenues from VAT and customs reached LL3 trillion this year ... which means they intend to increase taxes by around 33 percent. It is really strange that they are only targeting the commercial sector,” he said.
Chammas said the goods which would face tax hikes included essential items like vehicles used by handicapped people.
A suggestion to increase VAT from 10 to 12 percent would hit consumption and the commercial sector and lower purchasing power for citizens, he said. “Who will benefit from ... dealing another blow to the commercial sector along with Beirut’s image as a shopping destination?”