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Algeria approves divisive budget bill to offset fuel woes

Posted November 22

— Algeria's government has passed a divisive austerity bill that includes tax hikes and salary freezes to offset a sharp fall in gas revenues.

A majority of lawmakers approved the bill Tuesday with many opposition members boycotting the vote.

Mohamed Djemai of Algeria's ruling National Liberation Front party said he supported the bill because it doesn't "fundamentally affect Algerians' social benefits" despite the economic woes.

Critics of the bill, including teachers and medical workers, have planned strikes for Nov. 27-29.

The budget changes will create new taxes and raise prices on tobacco, alcohol and fuel, and some lawmakers warn that they could cause public unrest beyond the walkouts.

Other critics have accused the government and well-connected tycoons of amassing fortunes while ordinary Algerians struggle with inflation.

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