Tunisian National Constituent Assembly
Tunis – Nabil Zaghdoud
The Tunisian finance minister, Hussein Aldimasi, has said “revisiting fuel prices is an urgent necessity” in response to the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly's (NCA) objection to a raise
in fuel costs.
Aldimasi said the price of fuel had considerably risen in the global market, while members of parliament said any increase in costs would make it difficult for people to buy fuel.
The talks came about in an NCA session of the draft supplementary budget that had been endorsed by the government and been discussed for a week.
Aldimasi said on Wednesday, in response to the MPs' inquiries, that the government was facing “huge expenses for subsidising fuel as the price is high on the international market”. He said Tunisia was "suffering from two main problems; the high fuel price and its government subsidy, in addition to the repayment of huge loans borrowed in 2002".
He said that in light of the high price of oil, “the ministry has to resort to raising fuel prices”.
He however failed to reveal the amount of the proposed increase.
A number of Tunisian MPs vehemently opposed the proposed increase. Members of the finance, planning and development committee said they were against the government proposal to "avoid burdening citizens who already suffer".
MP Moez Belhaj Rhouma said that most parliamentary blocs, including the ruling Ennahda movement to which he belongs, have expressed their rejection of the move in light of the falling purchasing power of citizens.
For his part, committee head Ferjani Doghman said “a recommendation has been submitted to the current government to not easily approve a potential increase in fuel price”.
Doghman said in a press conference: “Fuel prices are not determined by the NCA or the government, but it is governed by the fuel prices at the global level.”
Tunisia’s production of crude oil improved last February to 73,000 barrels per day. It is expected to consequently increase the production of fuel this year.