In Greek mythology, the Danaïdes are condemned to spend eternity carrying water in a sieve or perforated device. In the Tunisian reality, Tunisian taxpayers seem to be condemned to the earthly hell of taxes, without the state budget being able to make all this money, other than to cover expenses, without managing to inject enough new money and invest to create more wealth, more income for the state and relieve the tax pressure on individuals and operators.
Where does the state’s money come from, and how much?
In 2019, the State was able to collect TND 32.366 billion in own resources, and TND 42.254 billion from all sources, including debts and donations.
This is certainly 14.2% more than in 2018, but it is less than the 43.121 billion DT provided for by the FL (Finance Law) of 2019, for the total, and 18.1% more than expected for own resources.
This, “thanks” to an unprecedented tax pressure of 25.3%, which means an increase by more than two basis points in a single year; tax revenues have fed own resources by more than TND 29 billion. The State even exceeded its own forecasts for the same fiscal year 2019, by capturing TND 1 billion more in tax revenues.
In these tax revenues, the income tax brought in TND 8.8 billion (+34.1% compared to 2018), including TND 5.4 billion from salaries.
This is largely explained by the very large wage bill (TND 16.767 billion in 2019) and the very large number of civil servants.
Corporate income tax (corporate income tax) contributed TND 3.8 billion (+45.4% over 2018) to the contribution of tax revenues for the State.
It must be noted that the Tax Department has dug deep into the pockets of taxpayers, almost to the point of piercing them!
To this, we must add the 1.284 billion DT in customs duties (CD), the 7.8 billion DT in VAT, and the 2.872 billion DT in consumption charges (CC).
All of these are included in the indirect tax envelope (up 7.7% compared to 2018, and up 5.3% compared to forecasts), and which increase the overall costs of the Tunisian and his purchasing power.
VAT, CD and CC have a direct or indirect impact on the purchasing power of Tunisian citizens, who find themselves practically bled dry by the tax authorities.
Where does the state’s money go?
According to official figures from the Tunisian Ministry of Finance, out of the 32.366 billion Tunisian dinars that represented the State’s own resources at the end of 2019, the expenditure of the Tunisian State, excluding the principal of the debt, was 35.857 billion Tunisian dinars.
First conclusion; the Tunisian State spends more than it collects from premises. Out of the 35.8 Billion DT of expenditure, the Tunisian State spent 26.426 Billion DT in management expenditure. And out of these management expenses, TND 16.767 billion went to the salaries of state officials.
2nd conclusion; salaries and other remunerations, represented 63.5% of management expenses, 39.7% of all state expenses, and therefore 51.8% of its own resources and 39.7% of all its resources, including debts. Better, or worse, 81.6% of the State’s own resources go to management expenditure.
The State’s own resources, coming from the resources of its citizens, both public and private, cannot be eternal and would not be renewed without investment. It is the latter that creates wealth and allows the State to levy the taxes that provide it with its own resources.
However, out of its total resources for the fiscal year 2019, Tunisia has earmarked only TND 6.140 billion to investment, or barely 19%, and only 17% of its expenditure.
This may make us say that the Tunisian state budget is a real barrel of the Danaïdes. Most of what is poured into it goes almost on the ground, and in any case, where the money is not recycled to create new wealth that would create new jobs.
It could be argued that wages feed consumption and consumption feeds job creation. This is certainly true according to more than one economist. The same economists, however, draw attention to the fact that consumption does not create enough jobs, especially in an economy based on imports and processing.