Tunisian PM wants 'social truce' with trade unions

Hamadi Jebali targets 7% economic growth by 2017

GMT 13:53 2012 Tuesday ,25 December

Arab Today, arab today Hamadi Jebali targets 7% economic growth by 2017

Hamadi Jebali has outlined governmental priorities for 2013
Tunis - Azhar Jarboui

Hamadi Jebali has outlined governmental priorities for 2013 Tunisian Prime Minister, Hamadi Jebali has called on the Tunisian General Labour Union and other national organisations to adhere to "a social truce," after predicting that the country's economic growth rate will reach 7 percent by 2017.
During a Constituent Assembly session on Friday, Jebali said it is important for the country to be stable, so that the government can implement its economic plans and prepare for the upcoming legislative and presidential elections. "We hope that the rate of growth reaches 7 percent in 2017, and the budget deficit reaches between 2 and 5 percent, in order to accommodate the additional number of unemployed."
He also estimated the total size of the state budget project for 2013 will be around 26 billion, 792 million Tunisian dinars, with an increase of 4.9%, compared to the potential results of the 2012.
Jebali also presented the government's priorities for the transition period, which will focus on achieving security and stability as a prerequisite for development in addition to compensating the victims, and accelerating the pace of the combating unemployment.
The Prime Minister pledged to eliminate poverty and high prices, aiming to improve services to citizens and formulate an effective strategy capable of resisting corruption.
Jebali also said that the implementation of this programme requires agreement of all parties, calling on trade unions to engage in a social truce and a "period of respite" up until the time when a new government is formed, after the elections.
Furthermore, there was an estimation that the Tunisian foreign currency reserves will reach nearly 11.181 million dinars at the end of 2012, after the figure stood at 9.581 million dinars on December 1.
This increase is a result of the financial agreements totalling 1500 million, with the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Union and the Japanese Samurai loan. There are also tourism, export and foreign investment revenues.
On the other hand, expenses related to the procurement and elimination of the public and private debt will reach nearly 2.345 million dinars. The government is currently in consultation with the central bank to rationalise supply and export subsidies, to improve deficit in the trade balance, as well as the rationalising loans aimed at the luxury consumption, and supporting investment-oriented funds.
 Despite these measures, the trade deficit is steadily worsening, with data from the National Institute of Tunisian census confirming that the deficit in the trade balance until the end of November 2012 reached 8.10703 million dinars, compared to 7828.3 million dinars in the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the political and social conflict between the government and the General Union of Tunisian Workers, had an impact on the stock market. The Union threatened a general strike in the country, but cancelled it after signing an agreement with the ruling group.
The spokesman of Tunis Stock Exchange, Abdul Raouf Bodbus said that "the social and political movement led to a negative impact on the Stock exchange." He highlighted significant stock declines in the recent weeks, adding that "the protests and violence in Tunisia during the commemoration of the martyrdom of Farhat Hached have caused the decline in investor confidence, and confused them."
Fitch Foundation has downgraded Tunisia’s long-term foreign currency IDR to BB+ from BBB- and long-term local currency IDR to BBB- from BBB, both with negative outlooks. This came after the cost of Tunisian debt jumped automatically to the highest level in 4 years, after rising for five years by 17 points, to reach 350 basis points. The results surpassed the estimates, even during the revolution.
On Friday, a number of Tunisian MPs, warned about the risk of bankruptcy, due to the worsening debt ratio as a result of the government resorting to foreign loans. They called on the government to find alternatives to develop the national economy.
Tunisian minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Riadh Bettaieb, signed an agreement with Philippe de Fontaine, vice-president of the European Investment Bank for two financial agreements coming to a total of €170m.

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