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Traders dissatisfy for failure of providing services in exchange for taxes in Azaz city (video)

Editing: Hasan Borhan |
TranslationEditor: Freda Hocaine |
Translation: Rand Raslan

Aleppo - SMART

A number of shopkeepers in the markets of Azaz city near Aleppo in Northern Syria, have expressed a great dissatisfaction with not providing services for taxes, which the local council is required to pay twice a year. The local council said taxes are necessary.

An owner of a shop, Ayoub Okash, told SMART that the council imposed taxes on all shops and stalls, criticizing sex traffickers who carry out this work in order to secure their livelihood. He added that the local council makes matters worse for citizens, rather than facilitating them.

Akash stressed that he completely rejects taxes because his business cannot secure the price for workers, supplies, water expenses, and electricity bills. He continued, "If we saw improvements we would pay taxes but the city is getting worse. It is not well-paved, and the council is carrying out unnecessary projects". 

Imad al-Taweel, the owner of a money exchange, also complained about the large taxes imposed by the council. He said that, "In the beginning, I paid 4,000 Syrian pounds as a tax and then participated in the Chamber of Commerce and we payed an annual tax of 20,000 pounds, in addition to paying other amounts, sometimes up to 250 US dollars."

Al-Taweel wondered how the local council spent the group's taxes. He added, "The local council is formed by Turkey and appointed its employees, all of whom take their salaries from people's taxes."

The merchant, Mohammed Kseiba, confirmed to SMART that the local council has not done any work to serve taxpayers; the popular market needs to be restored, and the council has not set any plans to eliminate rats in the market.

The Director of the Finance Office (tax collection branch) in the local council, Bassel Haj Hamdan, told SMART that, "Taxation is an internationally recognized and necessary system for any country that needs to develop and rely on itself. Therefore, the establishment of the tax system is very urgent for servicing the country."

Haj Hamdan added that the council has evaluation and appraisal committees that survey the shops, and estimate the symbolic tax according to three segments. He continued, "many shops do not pay taxes, have any legal action, nor are in the process of collection."

Haj Hamdan explained that the value of taxes ranges between 5,000 - 10,000 Syrian pounds every six months. He noted that the revenues from tax collection are weak as the city contains about 2,000 shops, including more than 200 closed, and about 600 refuse to pay taxes, and therefore the number is increasing as the result of a lack of accountability.

Haj Hamdan noted that the average amount of taxes every six months, is about 7 million Syrian pounds, which is about $15,500 US dollars.

He said that the council is working on several projects, including the electricity and water project, which is available now for 50 percent of the city's houses, in addition to the maintenance of some schools, paving streets, and the construction of a sewage network. He added that Azaz city was not ready to receive 100 thousand people in addition to the current 500 thousand.

Several local councils in Syria have resorted to taxing traders and businesses, in order to cover their inability to secure the necessary amount of services. The Syrian interim government is unable to cover all the requirements while the councils rely on humanitarian organizations to implement the projects.