Tunis — A cabinet meeting was held on Monday, under the chairmanship of Interim Prime Minister Ali Larayedh, was devoted to the examination of the economic and financial situation in the country.
The meeting reviewed the key economic and financial indicators registered during the first half of 2013. In this connection, it underlined the 3% growth rate during the first half of this year, against a fall of the unemployment rate reaching 15.9% and a decline of inflation rate from 6.4% to 6.2%.
According to a statement of the Presidency of the government, the deficit cumulated during this period reached 4.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), of the current balance of payments against 4.6% during the same period of the precedent year.
The foreign currency reserves were assessed, last week-end, to 107 days of import, while the coverage rate of the trade balance reached 71.8%.
The meeting also reported an increase of 6.1% of export against 5.4% during the same period of 2012 and a drop of import pace of 4.8%, a rate which reached 14.4% during the first half of 2012.
The volume of declared investments in the sector of manufactured industries registered a rise of 23.1% compared to the same period of 2012 against a decrease of 1.3 % of the foreign investment volume.
As regards the tourist sector, the meeting underlined a leap of 1.8% of the overnight stays, 0.2% of the tourism revenues and an increase of 4.8% of the number tourists. Concerning the state budget, the cabinet meeting registered an increase of the tax revenues of 4.4%, while the estimates stood at 11%.
It also indicates a jump of 25.8% of the management expenses which, according to the statement, is due to the rise of the expenses of subsidy and wage increase. The development expenses registered a rise of 17%, with a consumption rate of 23%.
The meeting resulted into a series of recommendations aimed to establish an economic and financial plan which foresees a set of measures and arrangements to accompany the remaining period of the 2013 financial year.
According to the statement, these measures also provide for the setting up of a commission to ensure the follow-up of this plan, adding that this commission should gather representatives of the Presidency of the government, the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT), the Finance Ministry, the Industry Ministry, the Tourism Ministry and the Trade Ministry.
The meeting also recommended to strive to reach an achievable highest growth rate likely to increase riches and ensure job creation.
Besides, it recommends to establish a plan covering the rest of the year and provide a more important interest to the tourism sector to improve performances and favour its contribution to the national economy. In another connection, the meeting underlined the need to energise the mining sector during the remaining period of 2013, by means of rising the production pace, the optimal use of reserves and the guarantee of their transportation towards the factories of the chemical group, stressing, in this connection, the need to gather all the necessary conditions to guarantee the good progress of this operation. It also underlined the imperative to take all the necessary measures to rationalise imports and speed up the pace of exports, recommending, in this regard, to entrust the implementation of these measures to the Trade Ministry, the BCT and the Tunisian Customs.
In another connection, the cabinet meeting recommended the rationalisation of energy consumption and the adoption of an approach in matters of electricity and gas to revise the price for some categories of consumers and reduce the charges on the payment balance.
Concerning the financial sector, the meeting underlined the need to take measure of saving within the Ministries in all management fields such as recruitment, energy expenses, maintenance of rolling stock and the improvement of tax incomes.
According to the statement, efforts of tax collection and tax control must be boosted as well as settling, in the shortest terms, the files of tax dispute. In another connection, the meeting called on the Central Bank of Tunisia to guarantee the follow-up of fluctuations of the exchange rate to reduce impact on the enterprises and think on means to set up a mechanism to support export enterprises and protect them from the risks of fluctuation of exchange rate.
It also recommended the launching of an operation of issuing bonds in foreign currency for the Tunisian expatriates and opt for the mechanism of "Sukuk" as a source of funding the state budget.