Algeria Targets Hidden $40 Billion as Oil-Price Pleas Ignored

27 Aug 2015   Algeria

Day and night, trucks trundle the 10 miles from Algiers port to the suburb of Semmar, where workers unload and stack goods that will feed into a vast black market. Merchants pack narrow streets to buy canned and dry fruit, grains and vegetables for cash, with the biggest crowds gathering after dark. Bazaars like this drive a $40 billion untaxed parallel economy, one the government says it can no longer tolerate as the oil slump slashes revenue and fellow OPEC members rebuff Algeria’s pleas for steps to prop up prices. Under the terms of an amnesty, Algerians have a year to deposit income from undeclared businesses with banks and pay a 7 percent fee, or face punishment. For President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s administration, alternative measures — such as cutting a soaring bill for subsidies that helped ward off the strife which has swept the region since 2011 — aren’t attractive. […]

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