Qatar’s only alcohol store is urging customers to take advantage of lower prices while they can, before a new “selective” tax takes effect across the country.
The government is planning to implement a new “sin tax” on goods that are “harmful to human health and the environment,” as well as specific luxury items, officials previously said.
This includes fast food, soda, tobacco and alcohol.
This week, employees at the Qatar Distribution Co. (QDC) in Abu Hamour have been warning customers that import taxes on spirits are set to double soon.
This will likely increase the cost of alcohol for customers, though it remains unclear by how much.
Many people have been expressing concerns about the impending tax, as prices at QDC for alcohol are already fairly steep.
Only residents with alcohol licenses are allowed to shop at QDC, which is also the sole distributor of pork products in Qatar.
Each customer has a monthly allowance that is calculated as a percentage of their incomes.
This week, QDC said in an unusual move that residents will be able to purchase three times their normal quota from April 1.
The alcohol quota usually only goes up before Ramadan, when QDC closes for the month. It also was doubled at the end of 2016 when the warehouse closed during the run-up to Eid Al Adha.
This year, the fasting month doesn’t begin until the end of May.
Meanwhile, hotels are also likely to be affected by increased taxes on alcohol.
However, none of the ones contacted by Doha News have responded to requests for comment yet.
Qatar’s Cabinet approved a draft law governing new “selective” taxes last month.
Officials did not say when the law would be implemented.
But the taxes are in accordance with a unified GCC agreement. And a Saudi finance minister previously said this could be introduced across the Gulf as early as April.
The GCC is also on track to introduce a separate, value-added tax in 2018.
That consumption tax will most likely affect businesses. It is expected to exempt certain food items, as well as the cost of education, healthcare and social services.