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Suriname seeks tax increases, devalues currency

The South American country of Suriname plans to increase taxes on alcohol and tobacco by 50 percent to pay the back wages of public employees and fund housing and education.

The government says it also will increase taxes on gasoline and other items. The announcement comes during the same week that the Surinamese dollar was devalued by 16.4 percent. The reason for the devaluation was not immediately clear.

Vice President Robert Ameerali took questions about the taxes during a radio talk show Saturday.

President Desi Bouterse has not commented. Bouterse is on trial for the 1982 executions of 15 political opponents. The former dictator also was not present in Parliament on Thursday when legislators debated the tax increases.