3 July 2014

Tunisia: BCT Governor Predicts Growth Rate Close to 3 Percent in 2014

Tunis, — Tunisia will achieve a growth rate of 2.8% which could reach 3% in case of improved tourism indicators and increased phosphate exports, Governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia Chedly Ayari said on Thursday.

In a statement to the press after a meeting with President of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) Mustapha Ben Jaafar, Ayari reiterated the difficulty to predict with certainty a definite growth rate given the opening of the Tunisian economy, based essentially on exports.

As a remainder, in its report published on June 11, 2014, the World Bank had revised upwards its forecast for Tunisia's growth in the 2014-2016, projecting a growth rate of 2.7% in 2014 against initial estimates of 2.5% announced in January 2014.

Ayari said the supplementary financial for 2014 that will soon be discussed by the NCA has a great importance as it will refresh data related to state revenue and expenditure.

He stressed the positive impact of the national bond which has so far mobilised 1,000 million dinars on the state budget, since it will allow to reduce the budget deficit that will increase after the rise in the minimum guaranteed wage in industry.

The government is currently working on the development of the state budget for 2015, said Ayari, adding that there are fresh indicators for the completion of 2014 budget, such as improved cereal production that will reduce the country's imports.

Ayari said Tunisia has made progress at the economic level during the first four months of 2014; this progress is however, "short of what was expected."

In response to a question on concerns about the country's bankruptcy, Ayari said "any country can face difficulties in terms of liquidity but without reaching the point of bankruptcy."

The governor of the Central Bank also expected an improvement in the rate of the dinar in the coming days, saying that the decline in the value of the dinar is due to the increase in Tunisia's imports compared to exports.

He added that the BCT is currently in talks with the government and economic partners on the modernisation plan of three state-owned banks, namely the "Banque de l'Habitat" (BH), the Banque Nationale Agricole (BNA) and the « Société Tunisienne de Banque » (STB).

On looted money available to Leila Ben Ali in a Lebanese bank and whose amount is estimated at 30 million dollars, Ayari said the case is still ongoing and back to the appeals stage.

He pointed out that the Lebanese Court of Cassation ruled in favour of Leila Ben Ali due to non-compliance by Tunisia of some procedures, knowing that Tunisia had previously won the case at the first degree.

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