Tunisian Govt. to Increase Financial Support for Poor Families

Tunisian Govt. to Increase Financial Support for Poor Families

Saturday, 13 January, 2018 - 18:45
Protesters shout slogans during, protests against rising prices and tax increases, in Tunis, Tunisia January 12, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The government of Tunisia plans to increase support for poor families and the needy, announced Minister of Social Affairs Mohamed Trabelsi on Saturday.

The announcement was made in wake of protests in the country over price and tax increases included in this year's budget that took effect on January 1.

The government will increase aid for poor families and needy people such as pensioners by 170 million dinars ($70.3 million), Trabelsi told reporters.

"This will concern about 250,000 families," he said. "It will help the poor and middle class."

Protests, some of them violent, were held on Monday against austerity measures such as increases of tax and prices imposed by the government to cut a budget deficit.

Activists and the opposition have called for fresh protests on Sunday, the seventh anniversary of the toppling of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, kicking off the 2011 "Arab Spring" protests that swept the region.

President Beji Caid Essebsi will on Sunday visit the poor district of Ettadhamen in the capital Tunis hit by protests to give a speech and open a cultural center, an official said. He has never visited the district before.

On Saturday, several hundred protesters took to the streets in Sidi Bouzid, a central town where the 2011 uprising erupted after a young man set himself on fire following the confiscation of his fruit cart by policemen demanding bribes.

The fresh protests draw on anger over price and tax increases included in this year's budget that took effect on January 1.

Almost 800 people have been arrested for vandalism and violence such as throwing petrol bombs at police stations, the interior ministry said on Friday.

Prices have increased for fuel and some consumer goods, while taxes on cars, phone calls, the internet, hotel accommodation and other items have also gone up.

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