COVID-19: Algerian Govt Cuts State Budget, Increases Minimum Wage From $140

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President of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune

The Algerian government on Sunday, May 3, 2020 came to a decision to reduce the state budget by “50 percent” for the year 2020 due to a financial crisis caused by the global collapse in oil prices and worldwide coronavirus lockdowns, according to a statement released by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s office.

Despite this huge reduction, the government also agreed at a cabinet meeting to increase the minimum wage from 18,000 dinars ($140) per month to 20,000 dinars, while income tax will be abolished for those earning 30,000 dinars or less, the statement said.

The government also postponed from Sunday until 10 May consideration of a finance law, which seeks to frame a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A collapse in hydrocarbon prices this year — caused by plunging demand due to societal lockdowns designed to combat the spread of the virus and exacerbated by a brief price war between key players Russia and Saudi Arabia – is putting ever greater pressure on Algeria’s external accounts.

Even before this year’s crisis took hold, Algeria’s foreign exchange reserves had fallen to $62 billion at the end of 2019, from $180 billion in 2014.

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The draft law factors in a plunge in oil receipts this year to $20.6 billion, compared to the $37.4 billion previously anticipated.

Tebboune on Friday ruled out approaching the IMF for a bailout, contending that “accumulating debt harms national sovereignty” when it is owed to foreign institutions.

He said he preferred to rely instead on domestic borrowing.

(AFP)

Yetunde Adegoke

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