Tax increase plan shelved



Cairo: President Mohammed Mursi suspended planned tax increases on Monday, shortly after they were formally announced, in a policy shift that could imperil Egypt's ability to secure a $4.8 billion loan from the IMF.

Opposition groups, locked in a battle with the government over a constitutional referendum scheduled for Saturday, began attacking the tax increases on social media immediately after they were published in the official gazette at the weekend.  They include increases on the sales tax on goods and services that range from alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and mobile phone calls to automobile licences and quarrying permits.

The taxes are thought to form part of an austerity package  included in a programme the government has presented to the IMF to win approval for the loan it is seeking to shore up finances battered by political turmoil.

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