On 14 February 2017, international accountancy firm Grant Thornton in the UAE in partnership with the DIFC Insurance Association, hosted a VAT seminar discussion on the topic: "VAT and the challenges which the insurance industry needed to be prepared for”.
The session was attended by members of the association and key industry leaders, aimed at providing the audience with a greater understanding of the complexities involved in the new VAT regime offering imperative solutions for businesses who require VAT readiness and implementation.
The panel of speakers included Grant Thornton’s expert leaders Gurdeep Randhay, Tax and Head of VAT, who was also joined by Tax specialist Directors Mike Vaughan, Andrew Barrah from Grant Thornton Australia and Dr Bassel, CEO of the DIFC Insurance Association who delivered the welcome address at the seminar.
The speakers shared their insight into how businesses in the UAE will need to adjust their processes to the impending tax and the measures they should consider now prior to the introduction of VAT. The seminar also addressed areas such as cross-border challenges, keys lessons learned from other jurisdictions and implications for the insurance, banking and finance and Islamic finance industries.
Some of the key messages highlighted were timing and preparation are crucial, as VAT is going to delve into every aspect of a business. This included ensuring IT systems are upgraded and tested in advance, legal teams are involved early on especially in reviewing contracts. A well-resourced VAT project will also require steering committees and project management experts get involved in particular with risk assessments and mapping, and in-house training for staff in different functions are in place prior to the VAT ‘go live’ date. Companies need to ensure they have robust internal controls and processes to adhere to the new law to avoid any unforeseen penalties.
Gurdeep Randhay commented “The event has provided an outstanding opportunity for practitioners to engage and exchange views with each other on what concerns them most and the challenges the VAT regime will hold for them. My advice is businesses need to be VAT ready and will need to map and realign their business transactions, supply chains and IT systems to make them more efficient and effective post-VAT introduction”.