Tunisian government announces social reforms amid days of protests

Emergency meetings of government held, as over 800 people are arrested

The Tunisia government had announced several social reforms, in reaction to the ongoing anti-austerity demonstrations which began on January 7 and have led to the arrest of over 800 people.

Emergency crisis talk at the presidential palace have been held, with President Beji Caid Essebsi, political parties and trade unionists present, whereby plans, which have been submitted to parliament, were drawn up to reform medical care, social housing and increase aid to the poor.

Mohamed Trabelsi, social affairs minister, said that the government was proposing a 170 million dinar (around €56 million) increase in welfare payments, which will affect about 250,000 poor and middle class families.

He also made touched on plans for guaranteed medical care and a housing reform.

The protests started after the government raised VAT and social contributions, and elevated the prices of goods in its 2018 budget.

Some of the second wave of protests turned violent during the night, with the government accusing demonstrators of setting police cars on fire and attacking officials.

A few people also tried to take over shopping malls and stores, and block streets.

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