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Violence erupts in Haiti over national budget

Friday, September 15, 2017

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP) — Protesters brought parts of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince to a standstill Tuesday, setting vehicles alight and damaging local businesses in violent demonstrations against the Government's budget plans.

“These little thieves in Parliament voted for this budget to help the Government exploit the people,” said protester Marco Paul Delva, standing by a barricade of flaming tyres near the legislature.

Traffic in the centre of Port-au-Prince and on key routes around the city ground to a halt after protesters threw stones and tyres across several roads.

Although demonstrators gathered in relatively small groups, the protest took police by surprise and they were unable to intervene in some blocked-off areas.

Protesters set at least two cars on fire and threw stones that smashed several shop windows.

Protesters directed their anger toward senators who voted for the 2017-2018 budget last week, and the deputies who approved it Saturday, but some expressed grievances based on false information.

“To renew your driving licence, you must now show a receipt confirming you have paid 10,000 gourdes (US$158), no matter if you are a poor taxi driver or a street vendor,” claimed Jean Claude Reimbold.

“But the bourgeois pay nothing: thanks to their corruption, they don't pay for water, electricity or income tax.

“They make us pay 1,000 gourdes (J$2,000) for a voter ID card — they want to deprive us of our rights.”

The National Identity Office, which produces the cards, denied Monday that the free document would cost 1,000 gourdes once the new budget comes into effect.

Meanwhile, if providing an income tax certificate is needed for administrative tasks such as renewing a licence, a 10,000-gourde (J$20,000) payment will only be required from those earning more than 60,000 gourdes (J$122,000) a year.

Officials hope the move will encourage more Haitians to declare their income.

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