Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Algeria News Update: Relations With Libya Based on Anti-War Stance; Social Spending to Increase

Algerian-Libyan relationship to worsen if rebels seized power: official

03.05.2011 17:02

Algeria's Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia said he expects that Libyan-Algerian relationships would deteriorate in case the rebels seized power, Xinhua reported.

Kablia told local Arabic daily Echorouk in an interview issued on Tuesday that the rebels in Libya have wrongly attacked our country with mendacious accusations. "In case they come to power in Libya, I think that the relations between our two countries will be very tense."

Libyan's rebels have accused Algeria of continuing to support embattled Gaddafi and his regime, claiming to have captured Algerian "mercenaries" on the battlefield, while the charges are strongly denied by Algeria.

"The glorious history of our country shows that Algeria has always respected the peoples' will and committed not to interfere in internal affairs of other countries," Kablia said.

Algerian Cabinet Approves Boosting Public Spending This Year

By Salah Slimani and Mariam Fam
May 3, 2011

Algeria will increase its budget spending this year by 25 percent and waive duties on imports of some food staples, in the latest attempt to stem the discontent that has fueled uprisings across the region.

The Cabinet approved a draft law increasing spending in the 2011 budget to about 8.3 trillion Algerian dinars ($116.4 billion) from 6.61 trillion Algerian dinars, according to a government statement carried by the state-run APS news agency late yesterday.

The money will be used for salary increases, boosting subsidies for wheat, milk, cooking oil and sugar, and expanding employment programs among other things, it said.

The measure is designed to “protect the purchasing power of the citizens and respond to youths’ employment demands,” the government said.

Protests, many demanding wage increases, are continuing in the North African country after popular revolutions toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and led to fighting between Libyan rebels and troops loyal to Muammar Qaddafi. The rise of food prices was one of the catalysts that fueled anti-government protests in Egypt.

The Algerian Cabinet also agreed to waive customs tariffs and value added tax on the imports of cooking oil, and raw and refined sugar, the government said.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on April 15 promised quicker political and economic changes in response to protesters’ demands. His government would review the country’s election law and appoint a panel to review the constitution, give more authority to provincial councils, build 1 million housing units by 2014 and provide more jobs for youths, he said.

Algeria ended its 19-year-old state of emergency in February, days after 800 protesters were prevented by police from holding a sit-in in the capital, Algiers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Salah Slimani at sslimani2@bloomberg.net; Mariam Fam in Cairo at mfam1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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