A leading figure in Tunisia’s leftist coalition has delivered a stinging indictment of the unity government’s proposed 2017 budget.
With the government still reeling from the backlash over its budget proposals released weeks ago, Chairman of the Parliamentary Block of Tunisia’s Popular Front Ahmed Seddik unleashed further criticism over government plans this Saturday, remarking that Chahed’s government and predecessors bear direct responsibility for the country’s deteriorating economic conditions.
“Rich people in Tunisia refused to pay taxes because they were busy financing the campaigns of those who are in power today,” he said.
Seddik went on to criticize the efficacy of the proposed budget, maintaining that current representatives are incapable of mobilizing the forces necessary to end corruption.
Media representative for the Ministry of Finance Marwa Mehri, however, dismissed such comments as a form of fear-mongering.
“To manipulate the masses, you overwhelm them with fear,” Mehri said to Tunisia Live, referring to rumors that the government might withhold salaries from public employees.
“The government has allocated $13.6 million TND to the total payroll (of public sector employees),” she said. “No one should be worried on this point.”
With regard to salary increases, Mehri insisted that the government has not abandoned the plan, just temporarily delayed it due to current economic difficulties. She also claimed that fears over price increases for basic goods were unfounded, and that the poor would not pay any new taxes.
Those who earn less than 5,000 TND per year will be spared from additional taxes, Mehri said.
The unity government’s proposed budget has drawn serious criticism since its release, particularly from Tunisia’s General Trade Union (UGTT), which unequivocally condemned the proposal and called it a “political failure.”
The total 2017 budget proposal lands at $32.7 billion TND ($14.8 billion)–a 12% increase from 2016–and includes $2.78 billion requested in foreign loans, double the amount from 2016.
Rahma is preparing a master thesis in Anglo-American studies. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs. Since the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, she volunteered for several Tunisian associations such as ATIDE, Sawty and others. She writes articles about post-revolution Tunisia.