Burundi's parliament has rejected a bill requiring hundreds of public office-holders to pay tax on their salaries and allowances, defying a proposal by the president to end the exemption.
Parliament's decision late on Wednesday enraged civil society groups who had lobbied for the law in a country plagued by corruption and battling to raise tax revenues. They pledged to pile further pressure on the politicians.
Under the draft legislation proposed by President Pierre Nkurunziza, the president, cabinet, lawmakers and anyone appointed by presidential decree would begin paying tax.
"We didn't vote for this law because it contains mistakes," Parliament speaker Pie Ntavyohanyuma said. "We decided to refer this bill to the government for amendment."
The tax exemption for the officials was enshrined in the constitution and therefore required a constitutional amendment, not the passing of an ordinary law, he said.
In his New Year address, Nkurunziza promised that officials including himself would pay 10 percent tax on their salary to maximise the country's tax base.
Burundians pay 27 to 35 percent tax on their incomes.
"It's really shocking. How can someone who has a monthly salary of less than $50 pay tax, while those who earn between $2,000 and $4,000 each month don't pay tax," Gabriel Rufyiri, head of the local anti-graft organization OLUCOME, told Reuters.