The International Investment Conference scheduled for November will not be taking place, probably due to the change in the head of the Ministry of Economy and Planning.
Indeed, investment and investment promotion in Tunisia has been a recurring theme in recent times in various statements and forums.
Everyone is expressing concern about the general decline in investment compared with 2010, but also and above all about the steady decline in the share of public investment in the State budget in favor of an unprecedented increase in operating expenditure (salaries and wages, among other things).
However, the debate and adoption of the budget for the Ministry of the Economy and Planning, at the ARP on November 24, 2023, did not receive as much attention, even though the acting Minister in charge of the task, Sihem Boughdiri Nemsia, Minister of Finance, provided some interesting data in this area.
This mainly concerns the rehabilitation of the planning of development projects within the framework of three-year development plans, with the active participation of regional and local forces.
Formally, planning had not stopped, but it had become a pure formality.
In her response to MPs’ requests for clarification, Sihem Boughdiri Nemsia pointed out that “the 2016/2020 development plan fell far short of the objectives set,” adding that the 2023/2026 development plan, drawn up in accordance with the document on Tunisia’s vision for 2035, would soon be presented to the ARP, after its content had been improved through regional and local consultations.
She admitted that there is a lot of tailor-made legislation that the government intends to revise. The idea is not new, but it is always good to hear it said again by those in charge.
On another level, the Minister mentioned the multiplicity of structures involved in international cooperation, and the need to reorganize them so as to make their action more effective. Indeed, it is through these structures that a large proportion of external funding is channeled.
In another very important admission, the Minister acknowledged that over the past decade, highly qualified skills within the Ministry of Economic Affairs had been marginalized in favor of relying on experts from outside the Ministry, while general managers and skills within the Ministry had been neglected.
However, in the eyes of analysts less blinded by neoliberal economic propaganda, these rehabilitations remain incomplete without the rehabilitation of the state’s economic role, not only in strategic sectors but also where the country’s interests dictate, such as in commerce, which has fallen prey to a blind obsession with profit by any means necessary as a result of its total privatization.
The determination not to sell off the assets of public enterprises, but to save them, could be the first step in this rehabilitation.
However, the PPP (public-private partnership), which was deliberately exalted, has not produced any convincing results in Tunisia’s current situation, while what little remains of the public sector, particularly public companies, has not ceased to be the object of the fierce relentlessness that we know and which poorly conceals its real purpose: deregulation and the total eradication of the state and public authorities from the economic sphere, the universal desire of globalist neoliberalism.
The same analysts have rightly defended this political reorientation towards a return to the economic role of the state, particularly in the light of the increased importance currently attached in Tunisia to the preservation of national sovereignty at all levels.
However, they stress that there can be no real sovereignty without economic sovereignty, which should not be confused with economic autarky or self-sufficiency, but should be understood as the acquisition of economic power based on the judicious exploitation of the three pillars of economic activity: agriculture, industry and services.