Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) evaluates Tunisia’s approach in the process of its transition and the strategy of the OECD to help meet it the challenge.
How do you assess the situation in Tunisia 5 months after the Revolution?
With too much interest, hope and great optimism, because you have embarked on a process that begins with the fundamental issues, but that creates a legal political framework in which all the components of the civil society are involved. We find this very encouraging, not only in Tunisia but also for other countries.
This is a major issue in which the OECD could contribute by creating attractive conditions for investment, but also through sharing experiences with member countries having almost the same challenges: modest growth, budget deficit and accumulation of debts.
Apart from the exchange of experiences, will there be other ways to directly help the new Tunisia, especially since it is facing a difficult situation?
For financial aid, there are donors like the World Bank, AfDB, EIB and others. The OECD is not a financial institution and does not grant loans or make donations. It works with a hundred countries in the political-public area, i.e. a better policy for a better life. It focuses on education, taxes, health, research and development, investment and green growth. It also addresses the issue of jurisdiction and employment.
In this climate of political turbulence, is it possible to convince investors and even European countries to set up in Tunisia?
You have to give positive and constructive signals to communicate a complex process that is enormously important for the future of the country. At this level, we can help the Tunisians since we have the ability to transmit the message through the network of 34 member countries.
The OECD could actually help the new Tunisia in the establishment of a climate conducive to investment growth, in addition to the upgrading of the labor law. This could help the Tunisians to find the most appropriate framework and a framework able to reassure not only the new entrepreneurs, but also the various European countries. Moreover, a very important conference will be held soon in Tunis with the aim of fighting against corruption and creating a framework for greater transparency.
What is your assessment of the work of the High Committee for Achievement of the Revolution Objectives, Political Reform and Democratic Transition, chaired by Iyadh Ben Achour which is too criticized by the civil society?
It should be recalled that Mr. Ben Achour had visited us in April and I said to him, Mr. Ben Achour, one must be screened for critics, because it is an enormously difficult position. In any case, there will always be someone to criticize.
Despite the fragility of the position, we always need competent people, especially in times of transition, a person with a moral authority and known objectivity to face up to it.
I think you’re lucky to have someone like Iyadh Ben Achour. You cannot draft a chemically pure Constitution without maintaining and providing an appropriate framework.
What role could the OECD play to ensure democratic and transparent elections?
The OECD stands as a partner of Tunisia in this period of political transition. In terms of elections, our contribution also concerns the management component and this to set up a livable environment that helps, in particular, organize fair and transparent elections.
What are your recommendations for Tunisia to meet these challenges?
It is not for us to give advice. The proper timing and context as well as issues, risks and opportunities arising from the current circumstances should be taken into account. For Tunisia, we must stay the course because the constitutional process is crucial in setting up the rest of the building, if I may say so, of the new Tunisia.