22 April 2014

Tunisia: Workshops to Propose Urgent Solutions to Economic Crisis

Tunis, — The preparatory meeting for the National Conference on Economy held Tuesday in Dar Dhiafa, Carthage, resulted in the establishment of workshops tasked with identifying proposals to find urgent solutions to end the economic crisis in the country, Minister of Economy and Finance Hakim Ben Hammouda told TAP.

Speaking after the meeting preparatory for the economic conference scheduled for next May 28, Ben Hammouda said each of these workshops gather a Minister in charge of an economic issue as well as a representative of each national organisation --the Tunisian Union of Trade, Industry and Handicrafts Union (UTICA), the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries (UTAP) and the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT)--and another of each political party, in addition to a number of experts.

The Minister of Economy said the national dialogue on economy aims to find consensual solutions on ways to meet the economic challenges, develop an economic stimulus scenario so as to overcome the current difficulties, the most important of which is the imbalance between resources and expenditures.

Governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) Chedly Ayari said, on his part, that the success of the national conference on the economy depends on the awareness about the collective responsibilities of all the parties in the current situation of the country (civil society, parties, successive governments since the Revolution and economic experts...).

He underlined that the decisions of the conference should normally be ready by late June 2014.

Speaking of the current economic situation, the BCT governor emphasised the need to find solutions to short-term issues (2014/2015), particularly in terms of mobilisation of cash, by reducing expenses, boosting exports and streamlining imports by limiting the quantities of imported products.

According to Ayari, cash must be available to cover government expenditures (wages... ), noting that cash must come from the state's own resources and not through indebtedness.

For the BCT governor, the State is not facing bankruptcy but the situation of the state's treasury is intolerable, in the absence of growth.

He hoped to see an improvement in the economic situation during the second half of 2014, compared to the first half marked by a poor performance.

He even predicted the achievement of a low growth rate, even a negative rate, during the first half of this year.

UTICA president Wided Bouchamaoui said the employers' organisation will present during the different workshops, proposals for operational solutions, concerning micro-finance, private initiative, fight against smuggling and boosting Tunisian companies' competitiveness.

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