By Mohammed Baali, MENA Report, Cairo
Many shops in Cairo have closed their doors over the past few days to protest the scheduled implementation of the second and third stages of a new sales tax, and merchants are calling for an even wider campaign of closures. Shuttered shops have been most evident around Moski and Abdel Aziz streets, the most important commercial districts in Cairo.
Merchants complain that the tax will make their goods more costly. They say the tax, which is due to go into effect soon, will simply make the situation worse for Egypt’s recession-stricken businesses.
Meanwhile, the Cairo Chamber of Commerce has launched a campaign in local papers calling on the president to postpone the tax. The counterattack by the organization, which has more than one million members, includes advertisements in the local press calling on the president to delay the tax.
The chamber has also hosted many meetings, including a large assembly last Wednesday, May 23, that was attended by hundreds of chamber members. Those present blasted the government tax policy and condemned the attitude of the chief of Chamber of Commerce Unions, Khaled Abu Ismail, who backed the new tax. The members demanded that the Cairo Chamber of Commerce organize a mass closure of shops to put pressure on the government.
The debate over the second and third stages of the sales tax in Egypt began a few months ago, when the government insisted that it had no other choice than to deal with the general budget deficit, adding that the tax revenues would also be used to enhance social spending.
The campaign also has sympathizers among Egyptian lawmakers. Fifty parliamentarians, including several members of the ruling National Democratic Party, left the session where the tax law was under discussion, as an act of protest. The lawmakers reportedly felt that the government’s intention was to pass the tax law despite the opposition. ― (MENA Report)
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