Algeria plans higher costs for identity documents to ease battered finances

Algeria plans huge hikes to the fees for identity papers, passports and driving licences, according to an official document seen by Reuters, as the government tries to ease pressure on state finances and secure new revenue sources.

The North African OPEC member country has been facing financial pressure since crude oil prices started falling in mid-2014, halving its oil and gas revenue, which accounts for 60 percent of state budget.

The government expects a budget deficit of 9 percent of gross domestic product in 2018, up from the 8 percent forecast for this year but down from 14 percent in 2016, the presidency said in October.

Under the new government plan, a national identity card, which is now delivered free of charge, will see its cost reach 2,500 dinars (R279.83), said the document, which gave no indication of the proposed targed to be raised.

A government official, who declined to be identified, confirmed the authenticity of the document, but gave no further comment on the plans.

The move comes on the heels of Algeria banning the import of 900 products including cell phones, household appliances and vegetables in a bid to cut spending.

The costs of subsidised products, such as electricity, gas and fuel, have also been increased over the past four years.

Under the latest plan, the cost of a 28-page passport will go up 66.6 percent to 10,000 dinars from 6,000 dinars now, while the cost of the 48-page version will climb 315 percent to 50,000 dinars, the document shows.

Algerians now pay 200 dinars for the delivery of a driving licence, but the planned increases in duty will take the cost of a licence for small cars to 15,000 dinars and the licence for large vehicles to 30,000 dinars.

Registration cards will cost motorists between 10,000 dinars to 40,000 dinars. It is now delivered without payment.

The government justified the increases by the “additional costs” in making biometric cards due to the use of new technologies.

The plan is expected to be discussed soon at a cabinet meeting chaired by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has the last word on all government decisions.

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