Speculators May Face Life in Jail as Prices Surge in Algeria
Algerian lawmakers are considering legislation that could punish speculation in food and medical equipment with up to life in jail, as a surge in prices threatens to inflame a country roiled by anti-government protests for two years.
Justice Minister Abderrachid Tabi presented the proposals to parliament Sunday, vowing to “thwart this dangerous scourge” and preserve the purchasing power of citizens, state news agency APS reported.
Prices have risen steadily after the pandemic triggered a drop in energy-export revenues, forcing authorities to ration imports and weakening the dinar currency. Annual inflation in August was 5.1%, more than double its level a year earlier. Algerian media have reported police raids on illegal warehouses hoarding staples, as well as shortages in subsidized cooking oil and wheat flour.
Speculation in staples such as grains, milk and sugar could bring prison terms of 20 years to life, Tabi said. The bill covers efforts to disrupt supplies of goods as well as the spreading of false information that drives up prices.
The country, where long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in 2019 amid mass protests, is still facing demands from demonstrators for widespread change.
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