European Union Delegation Accuses Algeria of ‘Extorting’ Businesses

Rabat – The European Union’s (EU) delegation in Algeria has alleged that the country’s authorities practice “illegal” harassment and threats against numerous businesses, with a particular focus on European companies. 

According to a report from Moroccan outlet Le360, the allegations center around a ministerial committee responsible for tax adjustments, which is accused of engaging in extortion practices. 

Under foreign pressure, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune was compelled to swiftly suspend the committee, the report adds.

Vassilis Koutsiouris, the Minister-Counselor for Trade at the EU Delegation in Algeria, has especially criticized the North African country. He recently issued a written note to all European companies operating in Algeria, urging them to resist the procedures imposed on importers.

The allegations include “arbitrariness, threats, and a lack of transparency.” 

Koutsiouris’s note reads: “You are already aware of the recent procedures initiated against importing companies accused of overcharging for the period 2009-2019.”

“These procedures target all importers, both Algerian and from third countries operating in Algeria. They are carried out arbitrarily and under threat through a commission composed of the Ministers of Finance, Commerce, Industry, Agriculture, and Justice, as well as representatives from the presidency and customs,” he added as reported by Le360.

“They lack a clear legal basis and do not respect the rights of operators established and protected by current laws,” the note concludes.

Additionally, the EU Delegation in Algeria has summoned several European business operators, advising them not to comply with any demands related to alleged tax adjustments. 

They were also told not to sign any documents acknowledging overcharging. In addition, European companies were encouraged to immediately contact their respective embassies in Algiers if they encountered harassment from the Algerian ministerial committee, which is suspected of engaging in extortion under the guise of tax adjustments.

The report further adds that the allegations have not gone unnoticed by American diplomats. 

U.S. Ambassador to Algeria Elizabeth Moore Aubin met with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on September 13 to express her concerns about the challenging business environment in the country. 

In response, Tebboune convened with the Algerian Economic Renewal Council (CREA) to announce the suspension of the highly criticized “ministerial committee.”

Algeria’s General Confederation of Algerian Enterprises (CGEA) also responded to the allegations.

In an open letter issued on September 5, the president of CGEA Saida Neghza denounced “persecution and various pressures from different state representatives” exerted on entrepreneurs. 

She believes that these actions are behind the economic turmoil and the steep rise in the prices of essential goods in Algeria.

Source : Morocco World News

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