Tunisian President Suggests Taxing Rich as Solution to Fiscal Problem

Tunisia's President Kais Saied gives a statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination, during a European Union - African Union summit, in Brussels, Belgium February 18, 2022. (Reuters)
Tunisia's President Kais Saied gives a statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination, during a European Union - African Union summit, in Brussels, Belgium February 18, 2022. (Reuters)
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Tunisian President Suggests Taxing Rich as Solution to Fiscal Problem

Tunisia's President Kais Saied gives a statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination, during a European Union - African Union summit, in Brussels, Belgium February 18, 2022. (Reuters)
Tunisia's President Kais Saied gives a statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination, during a European Union - African Union summit, in Brussels, Belgium February 18, 2022. (Reuters)

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Saturday suggested raising taxes on richer people could be an alternative to socially painful reforms as a means to secure an international financial rescue package.

Tunisia's government negotiated a preliminary agreement in October with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $1.9 billion loan in return for cuts to subsidies and the public sector wage bill and reform of state-owned companies.

Credit ratings agencies have warned that Tunisia faces a possible default on sovereign debt without the loan, which is also expected to unlock more bilateral financing.

The IMF has said Tunisia needs to put its finances on a more sustainable trajectory and has previously voiced concern at the level of its public wage bill, subsidies, low tax base and support for unprofitable state-owned companies.

Although the IMF deal reached in October was based on proposals made by Tunisia's government, Saied has described the fiscal reforms it contained as "diktats". Without his approval, the agreement - and loan - cannot be finalized.

Speaking to French President Emmanuel Macron in a remarks published by Saied's office, he described the IMF deal conditions as "tantamount to lighting a match next to a high explosive".

"Another scenario could be based on putting taxes on those who do not need support", in order to maintain social justice, his office quoted him as saying.

Saied also proposed a summit meeting on the issue of illegal migration across the Mediterranean. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will visit Tunisia next week, Tunisian state media reported on Friday.



Russia Hikes Import Tariffs for Consumer Goods from 'Unfriendly Countries'

A Russian national tricolor flag flutters on a tourist boat as another boat passes by along the Moskva river in central Moscow on July 18, 2024. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)
A Russian national tricolor flag flutters on a tourist boat as another boat passes by along the Moskva river in central Moscow on July 18, 2024. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)
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Russia Hikes Import Tariffs for Consumer Goods from 'Unfriendly Countries'

A Russian national tricolor flag flutters on a tourist boat as another boat passes by along the Moskva river in central Moscow on July 18, 2024. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)
A Russian national tricolor flag flutters on a tourist boat as another boat passes by along the Moskva river in central Moscow on July 18, 2024. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)

Russia increased imports tariffs for consumer goods, including candies, biscuits and shampoo, produced in countries that support sanctions against Moscow, according to a government order published late on Friday.

Russian imports from nations that imposed sanctions against Moscow over its military conflict with Ukraine slumped in 2022.

Some Western producers stopped selling to Russia, but Moscow has found roundabout ways to keep goods coming, including a grey imports scheme, and plenty of foreign goods remain on store shelves.

According to the order, the tariffs for perfume, cosmetics and shampoo from Poland, for example, will amount to 35% of the customs value. Duties for wallpapers from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will rise to 50%.

The new tariffs will be in place until and including Dec. 31 2024 and take effect seven days after publication.