Protests erupted in over ten Tunisian towns and cities on Monday, January 8, against the planned implementation of a value-added tax (VAT) and consequent price hikes. Among those areas affected on Monday by the ongoing protests were Tala, Kasserine, Sidi Bouzid, Bouhajla, Al-Waslatiyah, El-Guettar, Tebourba, Firyanah, Sabita, El-Kef, and Melloulèche. On Monday evening (local time), at least one person was killed and five others wounded in related clashes between protesters and security forces in Tebourba (La Manouba province), roughly 30 km (20 mi) west of the capital, Tunis. Additional protests, heightened security measures, and associated traffic disruptions are expected in Tunisian cities in the coming days.
The 2018 Financial Act, which includes an increase of the value-added tax (VAT) by 2 to 300 percent depending on the product, has generated a general rise in consumer prices. According to one study, Tunisians will have to spend an extra TND 300 (USD 120) per month to cover the rise in prices, almost as much as the national monthly minimum wage (TND 357.136) for those working 48 hours per week.
The legislation was the subject of much debate in the political realm and within Tunisian society. Many economists warned against its potential negative effects, including a shift to the informal market and decreased consumption that could impact Tunisia's economic growth.
On January 7, dozens of protesters demonstrated against increased consumer prices on Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis before being dispersed by police forces.
Individuals in Tunisia are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of potential violence, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.