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TUNIS, Sept 14, 2018 (News Wires) - 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 labour 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 labour unions have tried to oust him, vowed to go ahead with unpopular decisions.

 

The tax dilemma

By the Gazette Editorial Board

IN firm clear language, the Governor of the Central Bank,Tareq Amer denied any intention to disclose details of the bank accounts of companies or individuals to anybody. Amer made the statement in response to a proposal recently made by the head of the Tax Authority, Emad Sami, about amending the income tax act to allow the finance ministry to have access to the bank accounts of companies or individuals, if tax officers suspected the nature of the activities or the veracity of the tax reports of some clients.

The Governor confirmed that the Central Bank would continue to protect the confidentiality of bank accounts and would not allow any authority to have access to any accounts.

Financial analysts have been quick to praise Amer's stand in defence of the confidentiality of the bank accounts of all clients, since it protects the banking system and the reputation of the Egyptian economy.

Emad Sami was wise enough hurriedly to retract the suggestion so as to defuse the tension that it has produced and to prevent the negative effects that the banking system could suffer, if depositors rushed to withdraw their savings from banks.

However, we should be aware that the main reason the tax official made his surprising proposal was the tax evasion dilemma, which loses the country an estimated LE400 billion or about $22 billion a year. This sum is almost double the foreign loans Egypt has obtained to implement its economic reforms. During the fiscal year 2017-2018, tax revenues amounted to LE628 billion, which was a 36 per cent increase on the revenues collected in the previous fiscal year.

Taxes are the main source of income for the state coffers. So, the Tax Authority tries to increase its revenues year after year to help cut the budget deficit and raise the funds needed to provide basic services, especially in education and health, which are the sectors on which the government has promised to focus.

Since people are sure not to welcome the imposition of any more taxes, it is quite natural for the authority to consider other ways of increasing its revenues, including the reduction of tax evasion.

It may be wrong to consider access to bank account details, since that violates well-established local and international laws, protecting the confidentiality of bank accounts. However, there is still a need to find a legal way to counter tax evasion and force the wealthy to pay all the taxes they owe.

 

CAIRO, July 10, 2018 (MENA) - A bill on real estate taxes that has recently been approved in principle by parliament is meant to counter tax evasion, says Egypt's Finance Minister Mohamed Maait.

Taxes on real estate sales won't in any way affect the limited income brackets or poor, he said in statements Tuesday.

Under the bill, both the seller and buyer will be obliged to pay 2.5 per cent of the value of the property in taxes to the State, according to adviser to the finance minister Fat'hi Shaaban.

Both should pay the tax within 30 days from the selling date, Shaaban noted.

The bill has nothing to do with an inheritance tax that had already been cancelled by law, he assured.

CAIRO, June 19, 2018 (MENA) - Egypt's Finance Minister Dr Mohamed Moeet Tuesday denied reports on social networking websites on imposing a new tax on IPhone users and street food carts, laying off advisors and reducing salaries of directors at the state administrative body and others.

A statement released by the minister said some social networking websites post false news quoting well-known news websites by adding a fake logo to mislead the public.

Since 2016, the ministry has not imposed any new taxes of any kind to ease the burden on citizens and now it is time the government and society worked together to confront such vicious rumours that aim at disturbing the public opinion and creating a state of frustration and anger regarding the economic situation in Egypt, he said.

The ministry welcomes any qurries by the mass media or citizens as regards its work and policies, the minister said.

AMMAN, June 4, 2018 (News Wires) - Jordan’s parliament is considering seeking King Abdullah’s permission on Monday to convene an exceptional session as soon as possible over planned tax hikes which a majority of MPs want the government to withdraw, Petra news agency reported.

Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh said parliament has “a great desire” for the government to withdraw the proposed changes, which have fueled the biggest protests in years in the capital Amman and provincial cities.

“The parliament is heading today towards seeking His Majesty the King’s permission to hold an exceptional session as soon as possible,” Petra citied Tarawneh as saying.

“Withdrawing the law will defuse the protests that some areas of the Kingdom are witnessing as a result of government haste in sending the amendments (to parliament) before holding a comprehensive dialogue about them”, he was cited as saying.

Political sources said Abdullah was expected on Monday to ask Prime Minister Hani Mulki to resign in a bid to soothe widespread anger over IMF-driven economic policies.