How do I get my small change?
Although VAT introduced in the UAE is comparably minimal, which is set at 5 per cent, the absence of small changes that falls below current 25 fils is causing much confusion (“Small change needed to ease consumers’ woes”, Gulf News, January 8). A VAT of 26 fils in practice is rounded off to the next highest denomination which is 50 fils, so in reality a consumer ends up paying almost 24 fils in addition to VAT for the total amount purchased. Thus, a business outlet that have an average Dh1,000 daily turnover is most likely to collect close to Dh150 a day in excess of the actual tax, given the fact that almost all customers would end up paying the rounded off tariff to the next higher value. Large super markets who generate hundreds of thousands of dirhams in business revenue would start making a fortune with the new VAT system. This is a loophole that the authorities must address, either through the introduction of small changes starting form five, 10 and 20 fil denominations, or business entities should volunteer by offering redeemable programs for the excess fils, which can be collected over a period of time. This new VAT may also encourage consumers to start using their debit or credit cards more often, which enables them to pay the exact VAT for purchases rather than paying cash.
From Mr Esmail Mohammad
Skype has now been blocked in the UAE (“No Skype? Pay Dh50 monthly for video calls”, Gulf News, January 9). In a country where a large majority of the population are expatriates, living away from their families and friends, such communication restriction is entirely unjustified. WhatsApp’s call feature and other calling services such as Viber, Snapchat and Facebook have already been blocked. Under the prevailing situation, the people are very upset and, no doubt, they will be required to pay for costly international calls and messages. The government is earnestly requested to restore skype service at the earliest since low paid expatriates are already struggling very hard to survive because of the current high cost of living.
From Mr Mumtaz Hussain
All geared to fight
It is definitely going to be an acid test for our Indian Captain Virat Kohli and his team against South Africa (“Rain washes out second day’s play at Cape Town”, Gulf News, January 8). No doubt, his team has been on a roll during last year. But this year it is going to be tough, as he has to play in alien pitches in South Africa, England and Australia, where we have been struggling in the past. No doubt our top order batsmen have scored tons of runs in our den. But it could be a different scenario in South Africa, where we are yet to win a series. Hopefully our opener, Murli Vijay and Pujara would be cool enough to play their natural game, to hold fort at one end and enable Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli to do the attacking. Incidentally, it is heartening that our team could boast of our pace batteries to knock out 20 wickets and to break the jinx in South Africa. Of course for that we should have the best fielding, especially in slips. We wish our team the best not only during this tour but even in England and Australia.
From Mr N. Mahadevan
Acting at its best
I believe that this is just a way of gaining some free publicity (“This guy claims Aishwarya Rai is his mother”, Gulf News, January 4). If people ignore him for some time he will automatically come to his senses and disappear. This is not the first time that this has happened in India. Several years ago, a woman came up saying that Shah Rukh Khan was her son. I am sure this happens only because today, anything you say gets published and news channels will go and cover what you have to say. Best way to respond to this is ignore them.
From Mr Anup Hegde
Reaching the hospital and getting timely help saved the mother and child (“Miraculous survival for baby girl born in car”, Gulf News, January 2). Otherwise the travel situation to reach the hospital in the car would have been beyond words. To know that the baby and the mother are safe is relieving news. Some people’s speaking or way of talking can have a pressing effect that things sometimes happen accordingly. Cautious talking and controlled use of words many a times can save many people from uncomfortable situations, as we can see such things taking place around us in our daily life.
From Ms Annie Rathi Samuel
The smoke of tragedy
The smouldering coal used in a hookah coming in contact with the nylon curtains, triggered the tragic fire in the restaurants in Kamala Mills Compound, in Mumbai, which caused the death of 14 persons (“Mumbai pub blaze: Son of ex-top cop nabbed”, Gulf News, January 7). Videos in the possession of the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) have revealed this sad fact. According to press reports, both the restaurants were running illegal hookah bars. Now, this has cost young lives who were celebrating birthdays. There were other contributory factors like no access to fire exits, delays in informing fire brigade, claustrophobia, and more. May I suggest that restaurants across the worlds ban the hookah, unless they offer this facility to their clients in an open-air restaurant? Why should restaurant owners and customers take the risk of a fire, for the ephemeral pleasure of smoking a hookah? In Dubai, the law requires such establishments to be 150 meters away from residential areas, offices and school buildings. In Mumbai, in Kamala Mills, the hookah restaurants were bang in the middle of office, residential and shopping buildings. Decades ago people who smoked the hookah lived in villages and small towns, where there was ample open space and had verandas attached to their houses. I remember my own maternal grandfather smoking his hookah. However, he lived in a large house and always smoked the hookah in the open veranda, where there was no roof. In my travels I have seen men and women smoke the hookah in towns like Amman (Jordan), Muscat (Oman), Boston (USA), etc. in closed restaurants with a ceiling. A fire emanating from the hookah, is a danger in any part of the world. The hookah should be permitted only in open restaurants, which have no roof.
From Mr Rajendra Aneja
More education and enforcement
When it comes to traffic and traffic problems in Dubai, it is much better than most places I have visited across the globe (“How this project can ease traffic between Sharjah and Dubai”, Gulf News, January 8). Dubai has been able to adequately address the engineering and environmental part of the infrastructure; but not been able to address effectively the education and enforce the traffic related issues. My observation as a traffic engineer from California; almost 70 to 75 per cent of people are always driving above the speed limit of the roads that are designed; example if a road is designed for 50 km/h, they are driving at 60 or 70 km/h. There is a need to implement an effective program to educate and enforce the laws. The first part is the education; it should be a part of the licencing exams more aligned to teach and learn rather than to just get a licence. This may include higher penalties for speeding and other violations. The second part is the enforcement of such laws, through more policemen patrolling the highways and catching the low flying cars. In addition we need more speed signs all across Dubai. Hire more officers to look at motorcycles. It also provides useful employment to locals and generates revenues. Proper lane behaviour will lead to an increased capacity on roads. With both education and enforcement, being effectively addressed; we will see a reduction in accidents.
From Ms Narasimha Murthy
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