23 June 2012

Tunisia: State Budget 2013 - Government Has to Redefine Priorities

Tunis — "The Government has to redefine its priorities in the 2013 State budget," Finance Minister Houcine Dimassi said on Saturday.

Speaking at the conference held on the launch of consultations over the 2013 budget," Mr. Dimassi also stressed the need to streamline claims, saying "the years 2013 and 2014 will be difficult in terms of State resources and spending."

The Minister also said that the situation is the result of the decline in the performance of such public companies as the Gafsa Phosphates Company (CPG) and the Tunisian Chemical Group (CGT) and the impact of the global crisis on major customers of Tunisia, particularly the European Union, in addition to the dates of repayment of former debts of the State in the next two years.

He recalled that as part of the supplementary budget for 2012, the State had mobilised additional resources to meet some needs such as the fight against poverty, subsidy of basic products and doubling recruitment in the public service.

To avoid an excessive deficit and meet social demands, own non-renewable financial resources had also been mobilised, such as the disposal of seized assets and the use of revenues generated by the privatisation of some public companies, also said Mr. Dimassi.

Adviser to the Minister of Regional Development and Planning Ridha Chkondali stressed the need to diversify Tunisia's partners (not relying only on EU countries) and sectors, through a new policy based on an intelligent manpower, able to create and innovate, in addition to the adoption of a development scheme based on "diversification, participation and responsibilisation."

The official also called for increasing productivity, diversifying economic players in the public and private sectors and strengthening the contribution of the solidarity-based social sector (Zakat Fund...).

He recommended attracting foreign direct investments (FDI) which "are not based on cheap workforce" and putting in place a participatory approach to development to which would contribute all organisations, associations and parties, without exception.

Mr. Chkondali said the economic model adopted for a half century and in which trade is limited to five countries of the EU brought about an increase in the rate of unemployment and foreign debt of Tunisia.

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