MASRAWY (Egypt), AL JAZEERA (Qatar)
CAIRO – Attempting to tame the wave of rage that erupted last week in the capital, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi continued his weekend maneuvering into the early hours of Monday morning, imposing and quickly rescinding a new consumption tax.
On Saturday, Morsi announced he would annul the constitutional declaration that he issued on Nov. 22 that had conferred him extraordinary executive and legislative powers. Nevertheless, he stood by his decision to call a Dec. 15 referendum on a new Constitution that some critics say would cement his new authority, according to Al Jazeera website.
Again on Sunday night, Morsi surprised many by calling for an increase of consumption taxes on some goods, including alcohol.
Egyptian beer (cani&porci)
Activists immediately denounced the proposal, saying it again contradicts the demands of the Arab spring pro-democracy revolution. Masrawy published a list of the goods that were to be subjected to this increase: local and imported cigarettes, beer, soft drinks, oil, driving licenses, commercial licenses, water, electricity, gas, touristic transportation services, telephone communications and others.
A few hours later, around 2:30 a.m., the presidency declared that this decision is annulled without giving any details. Al Masrawy reported the text of his about-face: “The president of the Republic understands the needs of Egyptians and realizes how much the burden is heavy on citizens during these economically difficult times. Issuing decisions concerning the increase of taxes on some goods and services led to fear of the increase of the cost of living. Since the President does not accept that the Egyptian citizen support any extra burden unwillingly, he decided to annul these decisions and to charge the government to discuss the matter with experts in order to evaluate the extent of acceptance or refusal of this increase by the public opinion. The Egyptian people will forever have the last say.”
Reacting on this declaration, Nader Bakkar, spokesman of the Nour Salafist party, tweeted: “The timing of the annulation of this decision does not necessarily reflect an immediate response to the people’s will, but a deficiency in political decision-making.”
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