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Tue 15 Mar 2016 01:46 PM

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Saudi cigarette importers hit back against 'black market' claims

Importers claim the price of cigarettes in the kingdom has gone up by $0.53 in line with rise of GCC tax

Saudi cigarette importers hit back against 'black market' claims

Importers of cigarettes in Saudi Arabia claim the price of a packet of cigarettes in the kingdom has increased by only SR2 ($0.53) since the import tax was raised this year.

The importers said the price hike was in keeping with the amount by which the levy had been raised by the Department of Customs – 50 percent – after the GCC-wide increase was imposed this month, according to Saudi Gazette.

The news came in the week it was claimed the price of cigarettes had doubled since the decision was enforced. The newspaper, citing Al Hayat Arabic daily on Sunday, reported that cigarettes had disappeared from the shelves as many shops held back stock to sell at the new price.

Alluding to this, the importers quoted by local media on Tuesday said they were “not responsible for the black market where the price of a cigarette packet has gone up by as much 100 percent”.

For example, Fahd Al Hajjaj, chief accountant at Mohammed Saeed Fakhri, one of the main importers of tobacco in the kingdom, claimed the company only increased the price by the same amount as the new charges levied by customs.

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