Tunis/Tunisia — Compliance with the general lockdown that has been extended for two weeks, starting April 5, 2020, will enable Tunisia to get out of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis with the least cost, Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said Thursday evening.
In an interview with public TV channel Watania I and private channel Elhiwar Ettounsi, Fakhfakh stressed that Tunisia "has the necessary means to deal with all possible disaster scenarios" through proactive plans.
He also pointed out that Tunisia has enough medicines to treat about 20,000 people infected with the virus, in addition to ICU beds, isolation centres, protective equipment and screening tests that will be delivered to the country next week and will allow nearly 400,000 tests to be carried out.
The Prime Minister said funds amounting to 120 million dinars have been mobilised for the benefit of 900,000 people.
They will be distributed in the form of money orders. A certain category of small trades and workers in private companies affected by the cessation of their activities will also be able to benefit from financial assistance of 200 dinars, starting from April 4.
Fakhfakh has also announced exceptional assistance by 100 dinars for pensioners whose pension is less than 180 dinars. The total amount allocated by the government to deal with temporary unemployment, for the benefit of workers and public enterprises, will amount to 300 million dinars, with an additional 100 million dinars.
The Prime Minister also indicated that Tunisia will secure from its partners and donors loans up to 2,000 million dinars, not counting donations from individuals and companies.
He denied allegations of possible confiscation of assets. "We are in a state of war and we will mobilise the financial resources necessary for this war. We hope we will not be led to apply exceptional taxes," he said.
He recalled that the private sector employs a large part of the workforce and is a partner that contributes two-thirds of the direct and indirect revenues of the state.
On the other hand, the Prime Minister stressed that the state will apply the law to everyone and will not tolerate any speculator.
Hence, 750 businesses were closed, two people were imprisoned and legal proceedings were initiated against about twenty others, said Fakhfakh, adding that sanctions against speculators will be tightened under the decree-laws that will be put in place.
On the supply side, the Prime Minister pointed to the improvement in the delivery of consumer goods to markets.
Large quantities of semolina have been injected, with the constitution of strategic food stocks and a gradual return of prices to their previous levels, he stressed.
Regarding Tunisians stranded abroad, Fakhfakh reported that more than two thousand people are awaiting repatriation and will be placed in dedicated isolation centres. The same will apply for Tunisians residing in Europe who are in difficulty.