Strike against new tax spreads to Ethiopia’s capital

Strike against new tax spreads to Ethiopia’s capital

Owners of small retail shops in Africa’s largest open-air market observe strike against new tax

By Addis Getachew

Strike

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA.com) — Owners of small retail shops in the Africa’s largest open-air market, located in Ethiopia’s capital, observed a strike on Monday against a new tax.

A deserted view was witnessed at the Merkato market, in a clear indication that protests which started in small towns has spread to the capital Addis Ababa, with annual deadline for filing of annual tax returns fast approaching in mid-August.

Earlier this month, Ethiopian government introduced a new tax, targeting businesses with an annual turnover of up to 100,000 Ethiopian birr ($4,300).

“My income is very small. They (the authorities) estimate my daily income to be as much as 5,000 Birr ($214). I am diabetic… I spend much of the day sleeping. Where can I get that huge money from?” Fantu Bedaso, a retailer of grains who is in her late 60s, told Anadolu Agency.

“I filed my complaints with the government, but to no avail,” she said while sitting in front of her small shop.

Many retailers in the area, not wanting to disclose their names or get filmed due to fear of government’s retribution, told Anadolu Agency that they are coming together to voice their concern in more organized manner.

However, Addisu Arega, a spokesman for the regional government, said business owners had misinterpreted the new tax system.

In Ambo, Oromia region, 98 kilometers (60 miles) west of capital Addis Ababa, protesters damaged two state-owned vehicles on July 13.