Tunisian Government to Raise Aid to Poor Families, Avoid Street Anger
In the first government response to violent protests that swept across Tunisia last week, a government source said on Saturday that the government would raise its financial aid to poor and low-income families, as part of a package of other social decisions.
Since the beginning of the protests, in which a person was killed, Tunisia’s powerful labor union has called for raising the minimum wage and increasing social assistance for poor families, whose members have engaged in protests against rising prices of some consumer goods, gasoline, cooking gas, and the imposition of new taxes that entered into force since the beginning of January.
The government source noted these social measures were not the result of recent protests, but were being studied for months to help poor and middle classes, adding that those included helping low-income families acquire public housing.
However, despite reassuring statements and the positive atmosphere that prevailed over the second government meeting - which was chaired by President Beji Caid Essebsi on Saturday at the Carthage Palace, in the presence of representatives of a number of political parties, trade union and social organizations - the wave of social protests that have calmed down at night, broke out again on Saturday and is expected to escalate on Sunday, on the seventh anniversary of the toppling of the Ben Ali regime.
Protesters in Sidi Bouzid, the birthplace of the Tunisian revolution, organized a protest march on Saturday against price increases, amid low expectations that the government would suspend the new finance law and retract price increases.
During Saturday’s meeting, Secretary General of the Labor Union Noureddine Taboubi called on the government to approve an exceptional measure within one week, which includes grants to needy and low-income families and all vulnerable groups, as well as promoting salaries of retirees in an attempt to put and end to the crisis.
On a different note, Khalifa al-Shaibani, spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, said that the number of detainees reached 806 people, including 16 extremists. He added that 6627 rubber tires were confiscated from municipal warehouses that the protesters were planning to burn during looting operations.