Tunisian Lawyers Protest Tax Hike on Legal Services

Tunisian lawyers protest tax hike on legal services (News Central TV)
Tunisian lawyers wear a red armband during a lawyers sit in protest against the new finance law, in front of the Tunis court, on January 5, 2023. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

The 2023 budget, which aims to increase revenue for the cash-strapped treasury, includes increased fees on legal services that dozens of Tunisian lawyers demonstrated against on Thursday.

The lawyers objected to recently enacted taxes on legal services that were reportedly toughest on those from underprivileged backgrounds. A policy that the Bar Association opposes includes a rise in legal fee taxes from 13 to 19 percent.

“Today is a day of anger. We will wear a [red] armband all day,” the head of the Bar Association, Hatem Mziou, said.

“There is a sit-in from 9 to 11 AM. However, we refuse to hinder the interests of the citizens. So, we didn’t go on strike today and that’s not our objective. We’ll continue protesting if our demands, such as the amendment of [the law imposing taxes on legal services] are not met; as well as, the 50-point proposal that we have presented to the Finance Ministry.”

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The policy is a part of the 2023 budget, which was unveiled last week, and aims to reduce the deficit of the North African nation to less than 5% of GDP as it waits for an IMF bailout. The Bar Association committed to defend rights and liberties from what it called “attacks.”

The budget announcement comes as Tunisia struggles with an ongoing economic crisis that has led to frequent shortages of necessities as well as skyrocketing inflation.

Meanwhile, a former environment minister in Tunisia Mustapha Aroui has been sentenced for his role in an illegal import of household waste from Italy. He was dismissed and arrested in December 2020 along with other officials.

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