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Tunisian lawyers take to the streets to protest proposed new taxes

By Kathryn Higgins

07 December 2016 at 11:05 BST

Thousands of lawyers have staged protests in Tunisia against proposed new taxes that will weigh hard on lawyers and others in high-end professions.

Antony McAulay

The proposal put forward by the Tunisian Government would see local lawyers taxed between $8 and $20 for every file they present to court. The levy is just one of a host of strict austerity measures proposed by the Government for 2017 as Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed struggles to appease international lenders by reining in the country’s fiscal deficit. Also featuring in the proposed budget are higher company taxes, a one-year freeze on public sector salaries and new taxes on other highly-skilled professions, such as doctors and engineers. Prime Minister Chahed has conceded that the 2017 budget is the most controversial in Tunisia’s history, but insisted last week that his government ‘had the courage to begin these reforms in order to balance our public finances.’

‘Lawyers are angry!’

It is estimated by Reuters that around 3,500 of Tunisia’s 8,500 lawyers took part in a large-scale protest against the new tax on their profession on Tuesday, with many calling the proposed tax ‘unjust’ and calling for the resignations of Prime Minister Chahed and Finance Minister Lamia Zribi. Others held up banners that read ‘We won’t fund your corruption!’ and ‘Lawyers are angry!’ Head of the Tunis branch of the national bar association Lotfi Arbi, who organized Tuesday’s protest, believes that the new tax will limit the freedom and independence of lawyers in Tunisia.

Sources: Reuters, The Daily Mail; The New Arab


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