Tuesday, July 25, 2017

VAT to Increase IT and Tax Jobs in UAE

Most of the businesses in the UAE are either preparing or are on the verge of starting to transform their work set up, particularly the IT and taxation segments, as the country gears up for the unified tax regime on January 1st, 2018

A major part of being VAT-complaint revolves around updating finance and taxation modules of the organisations' enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. To this effect, there is bound to be a demand for job profiles that can help customise and make existing ERP systems VAT-compliant.

IT professionals, with knowledge of the financial sector, well-versed in Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle and SAP would be in demand in the near and medium term. To deal with VAT compliance and other related matters such as returns, audits and assessments, organisations will need to ramp up their teams with professionals, who have indirect tax and VAT background. VAT experienced accountants, CAs, CFAs, CPAs, economists, legal professionals will also be much in demand, according to Dubai-headquartered firm TASC.

The latest report by Thomson Reuters & ACCA VAT Readiness Survey, 'Is the GCC ready to implement VAT?' shows that 29 per cent of the companies surveyed have an IT platform in place that is capable of supporting VAT implementation and 18 per cent of respondents say that their platforms are only partially VAT ready. Further, eight per cent are challenged by older legacy systems that do not support the ability to build VAT logic and 35 per cent of organisations were not sure whether their existing IT platforms will be able to support VAT initiatives.

"The proposed introduction of GCC-wide VAT from January 2018 has improved the overall economic environment in the country and led to increasing in a number of employment opportunities for specialised indirect tax, accounting, legal and IT professionals. These are being pursued by major audit and tax advisory firms, government entities, consultants and also by large corporates with sophisticated systems already in place. These companies have started hiring experienced VAT/GST professionals from other countries like India, UK, Malaysia and Lebanon etc for help in planning and preparing for changes due to VAT implementation. This will help them carry out changes well in time in their ERP/MIS and accounting systems, contracts, supply chains etc and also during testing prior to formal compliance," said Nimish Makvana, partner, Crowe Horwath UAE.

"The employment opportunities for accounting professionals with indirect tax background will also increase for two main reasons, one that the taxation is largely a new field of practice and second, most of the companies will come under the purview of VAT. This will greatly help in meeting compliance related resources requirements from the government and the larger private sector which will gather further pace in the weeks ahead after formal legislation and rules are published."

According to first quarter data for 2017 from Monster Employment Index (MEI) both IT and finance have recorded a decline so far. However, those numbers may witness a drastic change as more and more job queries emerge for both IT and taxation candidates.

"Bayt.com's latest Job Index Survey showed the field of finance is already attracting the highest proportion of top talent," said Suhail Masri, VP of Employer Solutions, Bayt.com. "72 per cent of employers in the region are planning or have already started hiring in the finance and banking industry this year, an accountant is one of the most wanted positions. Further, given the introduction of the VAT tax system in the GCC, it is fair to expect the number of jobs relating to finance and accounting to increase. Governments, accounting firms, and businesses will require the skills of specialised tax accountants who are competent in incremental and surplus-value-based taxation. With this shift in tax systems and the subsequent changes in skill requirements, we encourage employers to widen their search parameters to find their new talent needs. This is done by searching leading job sites, such as Bayt.com, which hosts over 28.5 million CVs with diverse backgrounds and experience levels."

Small- and midsize companies will continue reaching out to consultancies to set up their VAT systems and processes as well as to train existing employees for maintenance and management. "Consultancies and advisory firm will need to ramp up their resources to the meet the surge in demand for their services. Just before the VAT implementation, there will be a spike in demand for professionals with VAT/tax experience. But in the long-run, new job roles will be added within organisations for ongoing VAT support," said Abbas Ali, senior vice-president, TASC.

"We have witnessed an increase in the demand for IT or technology candidates with experience in tax or financial sectors. Over the last few months, we have received enquiries for numerous roles - all contract based positions - for professionals with experience in finance and taxation modules of Microsoft Dynamics. The sudden rise in this niche requirement can clearly be attributed to the pending VAT implementation. We have also witnessed an increase in enquiries for tax experts and accountants with previous VAT experience. As the VAT implementation date nears, we foresee more demand for such professionals in the coming months," adds Ali.

The start of VAT may see hiring to gather further momentum once the UAE legislation is issued which is expected soon.

Anish Mehta, secretary, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Dubai, said: "VAT is also the value added transformation for the country. It will not only have an economic impact on the country and businesses but also a huge social impact for the residents in terms of increase in jobs and creating better future. All the organisations will set up VAT enabled accounting systems which will require the hiring of IT, finance and tax professionals and VAT specific accounting systems. It won't impact too much to large organisations as they can utilise their existing skills in their other developed markets. However, SME's will have to tackle complexities as existing system/skills needs to be aligned to incorporate VAT."

Si-Mohamed Said, ECEMEA Applications Marketing Senior Director, Oracle, said: We see VAT as a catalyst for digital transformation in the Middle East. Businesses can now deploy an ERP in the cloud (SaaS) to quickly become VAT compliant. This is also an opportunity for CIOs to initiate a broader conversation with the CFO to drive a larger digital transformation within their organisations."

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