Yves Bertrand, international expert in economy evaluates the situation faced by Tunisia one year after the popular uprising and proposes the African market as a solution to bring the country out of its crisis. Interview:
How do you analyze the current situation in Tunisia a year after the Revolution?
The first criterion is to feed the population and house it. The second criterion relates to education. The third criterion is the individual will. We need to provide jobs to all these young people who are protesting fairly.
In my opinion, I think we need to provoke and attract them. In fact, jobs do not come to you. So, there is a certain need for decentralization in Tunisia since there are areas where there was no economic activity in Tunisia, which can absorb the unemployment problem.
If we want to limit the influx of young people to Tunis, we need to decentralize the Tunisian industry by adopting an evaluation criteria based on opportunity and social responsibility.
Which appropriate model could help Tunisia overcome this critical period?
We must give powers and provide means to local officials. The Tunisian administrative system is based on governors and mayors. So, we must support those people who can be facilitators for the settlement of industry in Tunisia
But sit-inners are demanding now practical actions rather than promises?
It is not the government or ministers that provide jobs. I have never seen such things in other countries. However, jobs come from individuals and entrepreneurs. Calls for action should be addressed to them. It is not the role of the Minister to propose measures or solutions.
People need to launch more initiatives because any government, any party and any department cannot create jobs. It can only be a facilitator and guide people who are in place in different regions and countries.
In this fragile climate of sit-ins and strikes, which action is needed to encourage young entrepreneurs to start their own projects?
Entrepreneurs do not need to be encouraged. They must be helped to achieve the projects they propose to their governments. Anyone can propose projects to an administration. Otherwise, you are in a state system with state-owned companies that are bankrupt. An example of this was the Soviet Union whose system was a failure. Look at China which has allowed its contractors to develop their own projects. They are individuals who have revived the economic chain. It is the mobility of individuals. This is why I said that the force of the economic unit in China rests in the family where everyone is responsible for each other.
So I think it is a choice of a company that is responsible rather than an economic choice. It’s time to take real action that will have an immediate impact. We must tell people the truth. We need collective efforts, especially in officials’ control.
So how do you see Tunisia in the coming period?
I think that Tunisia has the assets especially with a very open system and an important geographical position. So we must take advantage of the neighborly relations with Libya which is in a reconstruction phase and in need of Tunisia’s know-how.
There is also the possibility of developing partnerships with all countries of Africa. The point is to pay particular attention to African markets, through the increased presence of Tunisia in these markets, to encourage exporting firms to settle there and make the most of the potentials and prospects for partnership and exports of services to African countries.
And what about the relations with Europe?
Europe is now facing a crisis, trying to fight to live. Europe is not the right solution for Tunisia. I think that Africa is the best way to remedy this situation. You are a bridge between developed countries and other nations. This asset needs to be highlighted.