RIYADH, March 14 (Reuters) - The Saudi customs authority has raised import taxes on cigarettes, it said on Monday, days after some shop owners in the kingdom removed packs from their shelves in anticipation of price hikes.
Saudi Customs changed its assessment of the value of certain types of cigarettes, causing tariffs assessed on each pack to rise, according to a statement on its website said.
“Importers submitted invoices showing the value of some cigarettes as 2 riyals ($0.53) per pack, but that figure does not represent the real price. Now, no price below 4 riyals will be accepted,” the statement said.
It did not elaborate on which brands or types of tobacco products would be affected by the change.
A price list from one distributor, seen by Reuters, showed retail prices updated as of March 13, with a pack of Marlboro costing 12 riyals and L&M Loft 10 riyals.
In the country’s 2016 budget statement in December, the Finance Ministry said it would apply “additional fees on harmful goods such as tobacco, soft drinks and the like”, but gave no date.
Its finances strained by low oil prices, Saudi Arabia is trying to generate more non-oil revenues for the state while curbing spending on services such as its subsidised public healthcare system. (Reporting by Katie Paul and Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)