The White Book, the Regional Development Ministry's work to be presented to the next government, has been published.
This document submits a new vision of the regional development, one which is based on the capacity and responsibility of each Tunisian region to define and build up its economic and social development.
The first part of this work presents the regional inequalities suffered during the last two decades.
The White Book points out that the interior regions are the least industrialised areas of the country and that they house a relatively limited number of activities likely to stimulate the regional development process.It evidences the huge divide separating the regions in matters of unemployment, poverty, education, health care and investment.
On the joblessness rate of the higher-education graduates, the White Book shows that the inland governorates record an unemployment rate highly above the national average.
For instance, the governorate of Gafsa has an unemployment rate of 47.4%, i.e., twice the national average (23.3%), followed by the governorates of Sidi Bouzid (41%), Jendouba (40.1%), Gabès (39.4%), Tataouine (39.%) and Kasserine (38.9%).
The document also looks at the regional disparities in matters of poverty. The Midwest region (Kairouan, Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine) is the poorest part of the country with a rate of 12.84%, representing more than three times the national average estimated at 3.75%, according to the report.
The White Book underscores the wide education gap. In matters of school drop-out, for example, the document reveals that the governorates of Kasserine and Kairouan present the highest school drop-out rate, with 4% and 3.5% for the 2009-2010 school year respectively, followed by the governorates of Sidi Bouzid (2.6%), Siliana (2.5%) and Jendouba (1.6%), compared with Ben Arous (0.1%) and Ariana (0.3%).
The White Book shows that life expectancy is of about 77 years in the governorates of Tunis and Sfax, while it stands at 70 years in Kasserine and Tataouine. It also shows that the infantile mortality rate is of 21 % in the south and 23.6% in the Midwest, i.e., a rate much higher than the national average of 17.8%.
In matters of investment, the document shows that the northern and coastal governorates benefit from the highest private investment amounts cumulative per inhabitant (1992-2010) --9,508 dinars per inhabitant for Zaghouan, 8,672 dinars per inhabitant for Monastir, 8,189 dinars per inhabitant for Bizerte--, while those of Sidi Bouzid, Jendouba, Gafsa and Siliana lag very far behind with values of 2,758 dinars per inhabitant, 2,635 dinars per inhabitant, 2,613 dinars per inhabitant and 2,601 dinars per inhabitant, respectively.
In order to narrow these disparities, the White Book submits 49 proposals, essentially meant to connect the underdeveloped zones with the advanced areas. It recommends to set up a network of rapid regional and regular trains, establish a regional data base on hospital system performance, create an associative fabric to support schools and boost decentralisation.
The document also proposes to mobilise the public large-scale enterprises to stimulate the economic activity in the mining basin to generate additional jobs, guarantee inter-regional complementarity, develop industrial zones along the borders, highlight the interior regions' archaeological sites and make easier the public's access to culture.
Regarding investment, the document recommends to favour direct incentives (subsidies and investment allowances), rather than indirect incentives (tax exemption), encourage promoters to invest in infrastructure in the regional development zone and improve intra- and inter-regional transport infrastructure.