The House of People’s Representatives (HPR) passed at a plenary session Saturday evening the Finance Bill 2017 in its entirety. 122 MPs voted for the bill, 48 voted against it and 2 abstained.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said the Finance Law 2017 will signal the start of economic recovery and mark the beginning of reform, since it will reduce the budget deficit and the volume of payroll in relation to GDP.
In his remarks at the closing of the 2017 budget debates at the House of Peoples Representatives on Saturday evening, he said the “2017 Finance Law includes courageous measures and preserves the original spirit of the draft presented by the government and the key messages it conveys such as the revival of public finance, fiscal justice and the improvement of the conditions of poor and middle classes.”
Regarding tax justice, Chahed said this “courageous” law contains several important provisions that have never been seen in the country for decades, including the revision of the scale of income tax for the first time since 1989, in the sense of easing the tax burden on low- and middle-income groups.
The Prime Minister said that this provision, which will apply from January 1, 2017, will increase the income of more than 90% of employees in the private and public sectors. This law will also guarantee to employees increases that can reach 40 dinars for low-income people.
In this context, the Prime Minister reaffirmed the importance of the provision on taxation of the liberal professions, which will concern not only doctors and lawyers but most of these professions.
Once that law enters into force, the Tunisian administration will not accept any document without a tax identification number, said Chahed, adding that this traceability will allow the tax administration to check and collect information about taxpayers.
He also underlined that the provision on the facilitation of the lifting of bank secrecy, adopted by MPs on Saturday under the Finance Law 2017, will allow the administration to gather information and data likely to facilitate its task and present all the guarantees to taxpayers.
Chahed also highlighted the social component of the Finance Law, underlining that it stressed the need to preserve commodity prices in addition to reducing VAT on several products such as transport, school books and agricultural inputs.
Social provisions include, in particular, the programme of the first housing that will allow the middle class to acquire its housing.
In addition, the dignity contract will provide decent work for university graduates, he added.
These three essential messages, will lay the groundwork for a new economic phase that will ensure the revival of growth, Chahed noted.
“The reconciliations we have reached on the reforms contained in the 2017 Finance Law have disappointed several parties which have bet on a confrontation between the government, the workers ‘(UGTT) employers’ (UTICA) and lawyers organisations, said the Prime Minister.
He added that all parties have come up with a coherent and comprehensive law to improve the financial balances and alleviate pressure on taxpayers through the understanding of all parties and their positive interaction with the HPR despite disagreements on the 2017 Finance Law.
The government is yearning to see the year 2017 be the year of economic recovery and acceleration of the pace of growth, thanks to investment, production, export and creation of job opportunities for young people, Chahed emphasized.
He said this objective can be achieved, since Tunisia has gradually regained the confidence of its partners.
“The investment conference “TUNISIA 2020 “, held on November 29 and 30, 2016, is the best proof of Tunisia’s ability to win back the confidence of its partners,” he pointed out.