(Corrects to remove paragraph 13 in story published on July 31
to clarify that the revised budget bill does not propose any new
taxes on alcoholic and other drinks made by Brarudi, the
country's main brewer, a unit of Heineken )
* Government says bill would address deficit, power shortage
* Tutsi-led coalition partner, Hutu opposition reject bill
* Proposal includes new tax on fuel, sugar, mobile phones
By Patrick Nduwimana
BUJUMBURA, July 31 Burundi's national assembly
has passed a revised budget bill proposing new taxes on
essential items despite resistance from a Tutsi-led faction in
the government and Hutu opposition legislators, who say it will
worsen living conditions.
Under the proposal, wines, liquors, cosmetics, tobacco and
mobile phones would pay a $0.25 "new stamp tax", and washed
coffee, sugar, flour and mineral water would also have new taxes
There would also be a new fuel and airport departure tax.
The government argues the measures would help reduce the
deficit expected in revenues this year. Burundi's budget for
this fiscal year had predicted tax revenues of 633 billion
francs ($411 million), but the government expects a shortfall of
44 billion francs.
Finance Minister Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza has said the new
taxes would raise funds for new roads and power supplies.
Burundi has suffered a power shortage because of a sharp
fall in water reserves in the country's main hydroelectric plant
because of a drought.
The country is also trying to wean itself off international
donors who provide 50 percent of the country's budget resources.
Only parliament members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party
approved the bill late on Wednesday.
MPs from the Tutsi-led UPRONA party, the minority partner in
a power-sharing government set up to keep ethnic tensions in
check after a 12-year civil war, and legislators from the small
Hutu opposition FRODEBU NYAKURI party, rejected the proposal.
UPRONA party and FRODEBU NYAKURI party MPs say the proposed
new taxes would worsen conditions for the nearly 10 million
people in the impoverished nation.
Burundi was ranked among the top five countries globally in
terms of poverty density in a report published by the World Bank
in April, with 81 percent of the population living below the
"I personally voted 'no' against the government's draft
bill, because it raises tax on fuel and other essential
products. This situation will seriously affect the majority of
Burundians who are already facing poverty," said Jean Minani,
the FRODEBU NYAKURI party chairman.
($1 = 1539.9000 Burundi Francs)
(Editing by James Macharia and Raissa Kasolowsky)