Tunisia pledges $70m aid package for poor

16 Jan 18

Tunisia is planning to give an extra $70m to poor families and needy people in the country amid protests against austerity measures, a minister has said. 

The protests broke out in the North African country on 7 January in response to government measures to cut a budget deficit, including increases of tax.

Minister of social affairs, Mohamed Trabelsi, told reporters the government plans to increase aid for poor families and other people in need, such as pensioners, by up to $70.3m.

He said: “This will concern about 250,000 families. It will help the poor and middle class.”

Tax increases were included in this year’s budget that took effect on 1 January.

The new budget increased taxes and the cost of basic items, including flour, telephone bills and internet access, risking food security for the poor. It has also raised the prices of fuel. 

Tunisia's government has the power to influence prices in two ways: by setting an official price for specific food and consumer items and by subsidising some basic food products, according to the African Development Bank. 

The country has been struggling economically since Ben Ali was deposed as president at the start of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings in 2010.

In June last year, the International Monetary Fund released $314.4m to Tunisia as a reward of the government’s efforts towards economic stability.   

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