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Tunisian lawyers protest tax hike on legal services

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.   -  
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FETHI BELAID/AFP or licensors


Songs and slogans to express their discontent. Dozens of Tunisian lawyers gathered outside the capital’s Law Courts as well as other sites, Thursday (Jan. 05).

They protested newly imposed taxes on legal services said to hit the hardest users from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Among the policies contested by the Bar Association, is a hike in taxes on legal fees, 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."

The measure is part of the 2023 budget presented last week seeking to claw the North African country's deficit back to near five percent of its GDP, as it awaits an IMF bailout.

The Bar Association vowed to fight in the face of what it called "attacks on rights and liberties".

The budget annoucement comes at a time when Tunisia is mired in an economic crisis that has caused repeated shortages of essential goods as well as spiralling inflation.

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