Tunisia will not impose new taxes in 2019: prime minister

Tunisia will impose no new taxes on individuals and firms under the 2019 budget but will continue to reform a costly subsidies system, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2018
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Tunisia will not impose new taxes in 2019: prime minister

  • The IMF has been pressing Tunisia to trim its budget deficit and increase fuel and electricity bills.
  • The IMF and Tunisia reached an initial, or “staff level,” agreement last month on the next reforms, the IMF has said.

TUNIS: Tunisia will impose no new taxes on individuals and firms under the 2019 budget but will continue to reform a costly subsidies system, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on Friday.
The country has struggled to fulfill donors’ demands to reform its economy and cut its budget deficit amid turmoil since the ousting of president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
Unwilling to cut a bloated public service due to resistance from labor unions, the government has raised taxes several times, prompting riots for weeks in January.
“To boost growth and to make companies more competitive we will not impose new taxes on companies or individuals,” Chahed said in a speech. But he added that the government would continue to overhaul the subsidies system which is straining public finances.
Tunisia raised fuel prices this month by about 4 percent, the fourth increase this year.
The cost of fuel subsidies this year will rise from an expected 1.5 billion dinars ($542 million) to 4.3 billion dinars due to the rise in world oil prices, officials have said.
The IMF has been pressing Tunisia to trim its budget deficit and increase fuel and electricity bills.
Chahed, who is fighting for survival as some in his Nidaa Tounes party and labor unions have tried to oust him, vowed to go ahead with unpopular decisions.
“Despite ... the lack of political support for the government we will go ahead next year with reforms including welfare contributions and subsidies,” he said, without giving details.
The IMF and Tunisia reached an initial, or “staff level,” agreement last month on the next reforms, the IMF has said.
The Washington-based fund is due to decide whether to pay out the next loan installment worth $250 million, part of a $2.8 billion scheme, at a board meeting this month.


Israeli air strikes target Gaza Strip ‘terror targets’ after rocket fire

Updated 22 min 58 sec ago
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Israeli air strikes target Gaza Strip ‘terror targets’ after rocket fire

GAZA STRIP: Israel’s military said it was carrying out air strikes “throughout the Gaza Strip” to strike “terror targets” on Monday after a barrage of mortar and rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave toward its territory wounded six people.

A number of rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, while Israel’s army said an Israeli bus was hit by fire from the Palestinian enclave.

Israeli medics say a 19-year-old man was critically wounded in the attack, the man apparently sustained the wounds in a mortar attack from Gaza that struck the bus. Black smoke could be seen billowing into the air from the area of the mortar strike.

A picture taken from the Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018 shows missiles being launched toward Israel. (AFP)

The flare-up comes after a clash that erupted during an Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip late on Sunday that killed eight people, including an Israeli officer.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, vowed revenge for the attack and claimed to fire mortars and rockets from Gaza.

A picture taken from the Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018 shows missiles being launched toward Israel. A number of rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel. (AFP)

The renewed violence was threatening to derail weeks of efforts to end unrest along the Gaza-Israel border.

The dead from the incident late Sunday included an Israeli army officer and a local commander for Hamas's armed wing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Paris and rushed home as tensions rose.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and recent unrest has raised fears of a fourth.