20 December 2012

Tunisia: Some 5.7 MTD to Be Allocated to Social Subsidies and Expenditure in 2013

Tunis — Social subsidies and expenditure in the 2013 State budget amount to 5,700 million dinars (MTD), Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said, on Thursday.

Presenting before the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) members the 2013 Finance and State Budget Bill, the PM announced that next year, the health map will be reviewed with a view to reducing regional disparities. Efforts will also focus on bringing closer and improving health care services, as well as on carrying out hospital infrastructure consolidation projects.

He also reminded that Government, in consultation with its social partners, had decided "unprecedented" wage rises in the public and private sectors, in spite of pressures weighing on the budget.

Mr. Jebali expressed hope that signing of this social contract will mark the start of 2013.

The agreement, he explained, is meant to reinforce Government partnership relations in matters of professional relations. It is also meant, he went on saying, to provide decent working conditions, improve health insurance and better adjust employment and vocational training programmes and policies.

Given the alarming rise of the consumer prices index which reached 5.5% in 2012, due to the increasing prices of foodstuffs and other products, such as fuel, Government's priority is henceforth to form a permanent national committee tasked with price control, continuous supply of markets, organisation of distribution channels and intensification of oversight.

These measures also include fight against smuggling and black-market trade and control of inflation as caused by speculation.

As to subsidisation of products, Mr. Jebali stressed keenness to better target the rights-holders. He said that subsidies cost the national community 4,200 million dinars (MTD), against 2,800 MTD in 2011, i.e., 5.4% of the GDP and 15.7% of the State budget.

In another connection, the PM pointed to the specific programme of replacing 14,600 rudimentary houses worth more than 220 MTD investments. He also announced that 30,000 low-income lodgings will be, fairly and objectively, served to needy social categories.

Mr. Hamadi Jebali said his government has managed to reduce, even partly, the unemployment rate, bringing it to 17% in the third quarter of 2012, compared with 18.9% in 2011, according to the National Institute of Statistics.

The prime minister said 71 thousand jobs have been created in the first nine months of 2012, adding that with the completion of the recruitment programme in the public service and state corporations, job creations in 2012 will exceed 100 thousand jobs, against 75 thousand foreseen.

One hundred and twenty thousand job positions in the sectors of electricity, textile, agriculture, building and public works are still vacant because of the reluctance of unemployed people to work in these areas, noted Mr. Jebali.

He added that the employment incentive programme which has replaced the "AMAL" programme is a new mechanism designed to encourage young people to join the employment dynamics through gaining skills allowing them to increase their employability.

As part of the reform of work in sites which has negative effects on the job market and undermines the balances of the State budget owing to the huge credits earmarked to it (175 MTD), the government has taken measures to better organise the payment of salaries of these workers and check their nominative lists, said the Prime Minister.

He said this reform has focused on the temporary aspect of sites and launched a programme for a gradual integration of workers in public institutions as part of the Mechanism 16.

Mr. Jebali announced that 6,000 jobs will be created for family members of martyrs and wounded of the Revolution as well as beneficiaries of the general amnesty.

He also added that 1,250 jobs will be dedicated to families that have no active member. The distribution of these job positions will be entrusted to regional commissions.

Mr. Jebali also announced the recruitment in 2013 of 10 thousand school attendants and the qualification of 10 thousand agents to be assigned in public departments providing direct services to citizens.

This qualification programme will particularly benefit regions that suffer from high unemployment rate.

These creations estimated at 580 MTD will be financed by the National Employment Fund, the Fund for Promotion of Vocational Training and the National Fund for Promotion of Handicraft and Small Trades.

The Interim PM stressed the commitment to encourage private project creation and activate agreements signed in matters of legal migration, in addition to the creation of a programme for employment abroad, particularly in Maghreb, African and Gulf countries.

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