Rajiv Hira is a high caliber strategic, tax and finance professional with an experience of leading roles in private and multinational financial institutions for over 20+ years in the area of risk management, compliance, investment analysis, investment management, Taxation advisory, VAT advisory and management consulting. He's actively working in UAE with large corporates, SME & Individuals on indirect tax implementation advisory & transactional advisory. and has contributed in development of resources with professional bodies, training institutes & corporates through structured training, seminars and articles.
1. Tell us more about yourself - How did you enter the field of taxation
I am a practicing Chartered Accountant, providing strategic and tax advisory to large Corporates and SME’s in the region. Expertise in the field is derived from my core qualification as a Chartered Accountant and continuous processional learning from the fraternity, along with an experience of working with Multinational Corporate and Global Financial Institutions across Asia, Africa and Middle East. In my corporate journey, I have worked effectively with Large Global Corporates and SME’s in the space of credit risk, operational risk, operations effectiveness, taxation and compliance framework, along with hands-on experience in engaging with regulators and governing bodies in the space of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF).
Connection to law and its interpretation has always attracted me which inturn has helped me to groom myself and share my views/ interpretation in the course of work and as a facilitator / trainer. During the past 3+ years, I had activity contributed in development of resources (with professional bodies, training institutes & corporates) through structured training, seminars and articles.
2. Where do you think the world of tax is moving? What role will technology play in the future of taxes?
There is a Sanskrit phrase called “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, which means "the world is one family", and taxation is adopting that position faster than we expected to follow. In past few years, we observed transformational change in the financial industry, which made flow of financial transactions evolve to the new level. Money is now moving from one jurisdiction to another in just a fraction of minute. This speed of transaction is connected with the threat where the task is to restrict the financial transactions, restrict the flow of bad money i.e. to ensure compliance to Anti Money Laundering & Counter-Terrorist Financing (AML/CTF). There are various controls and automations embraced by the financial industry to ensure compliance, indirect taxation plays an important and integral part of the compliance in global economy.
Taxation is one of the indirect ways where trail of transaction gets established for sales, purchase and income in the economy. Effective introduction and implementation of Taxation globally can help financial industry to take control of the risk-free global economy and attain sustainable growth.
3. How has the future of consulting services changed post COVID?
Consulting services were up for change and COVID made the landscape upside down. It may be too early to truly evaluate the impact, however some of the points immediately impacted are:
1. In one way, travel time is reduced with the help of technology (using Webinar, Zoom, Teams etc.), whereas physical travel has moved to few decades away, example, more than a decade before, travel from India to UAE used to take few days (though ships) to complete, and the same scenario is faced now a days when you need to spend time on quarantine (as precautionary measures), making travel to few days form hours.
2. Consumption pattern is taking a change, from luxury to need based.
With so many things changing, definition of normal is questioned day-in and day-out, there is a need for strategic advisory, i.e. getting into the shoe of the investor / company and supporting though the value addition. Holistic approach in advisory will be the need of an hour and anyone who can provide an end to end outlook will be able to contribute positively to the economy and the segment, whether it is SME or for Corporate.
4. What are your views on VAT in the GCC - rate of tax, complications, tax authorities etc.?
Value Added Tax is levied on majority of the goods and services traded / provided in UAE. In the space of Indirect Tax, we should be expecting an expansion of industry (based on global presence) example gaming, racing, exotic clubs etc. and resultant expansion of "sin tax" on those products/ services, it’s too early to say by when, however this is a balancing act of being global and connected with the roots.
KSA, recently announced increase in VAT from current 5% to 15%, and increase in customs duty for selected items. Will other countries follow the process, it’s going to be judged in the times to come and is directly linked with the economic outlook and objectives to meet strategic investment in the country.
5. What message do you have for CFOs/ Tax Heads in the GCC for them to be better compliant?
My basic mantra for being compliant is:
1. Look at the intent of law first and then read verbatim.
2. Look at the long-term approach, rather than short term gain.
3. Wherever required, seek clarification from regulators,and face the situation, rather than waiting for the future to unearth.
4. Connect with like-minded professionals to enhance your view and get a new perspective.
6. Take every opportunity to learn the new “normal”.
7. Good to get the third party, view and perspective, and adoption of risk-based approach in your domain.
Rajiv will be a monthly contributor to GCC Fintax- Read his most recent article here.