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Sunday 20 June 2021
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Tunisia: ‘’agreement to reduce prices of a number of products,’’ says Director General of Food Industry

Noureddine Agrebi, Director General of Food Industry at the Ministry of Industry told Africanmanager that consultations are continuing between the administration and all the professionals to find a compromise on the downward revision of prices of certain products.

He was optimistic following the positive response of professionals to the development and implementation of this policy.

Interview:

Since his appointment as Prime Minister, Habib Essid promised to stabilize prices that continue to climb inexplicably. That is why he announced in his keynote address, among other measures, price freeze. What is it?

We can say that the policy of the current government aims to better control inflation rate has continued to worsen, and to ensure a certain stability.

This is important because it would likely lead to a decline in consumption, with erosion of the purchasing power of citizens. This is why the various stakeholders (producers, traders) work to ensure that prices control be guaranteed and why not lower prices of certain products.

How?

There is a legal process that would allow the Minister of Commerce to freeze prices for some products for a period of six months in accordance with Article 4 of the consumer protection law.

How can we use this measure?

The Minister of Commerce is empowered to order the price freeze to ensure that products do not post further increases. The use of this measure could take place only in extreme cases.

Fortunately, we are not in this situation all the more that the talks and consultations are continuing between stakeholders, and this at the level of production, processing and marketing to find a compromise. It is important to have the agreement of all stakeholders to review the prices of certain products including vegetables and fruits

What are the products that could be subject to the price freeze?

At first, it should be noted that the intention is not to increase the prices of subsidized products where the state controls these prices.

The current problem affects fresh products such as fruits, vegetables, and red and white meat that have greatly affected the purchasing power of citizens. To do this, consultations continue daily between all stakeholders. Moreover, the same policy is adopted at the production of eggs where negotiations and working sessions are conducted to reduce prices of some poultry products. This is the same approach used for fruits and vegetables that have increased considerably.

The production of some products has certainly decreased, but the increase in their prices remains unjustified. In this context, one can focus on the thorny problem of the control of distribution channels where the profit margins of stakeholders remain disproportionate to the budget of citizens. This is the same problem faced at the level of some processed products where we have exorbitant increases.

Food products are not only those that weaken the purchasing power of citizens. We have also chemicals like cleaning products which represent 20% of household essentials.

What would be the reaction of the stakeholders?

It can be said that a positive reaction is expressed by these stakeholders and especially producers and processors who have not rejected the initiative. Instead, they consider that lower prices would certainly contribute to an increase in consumption.

There was a positive response, but for a non-consumable product. This is cement since the Ministry of Industry has asked manufacturers to revise prices. The demand is accepted and lower prices occurred.

As for food, positive messages were sent, and soon there will be an agreement between the administration and professionals to revise downward the products of some products.

What are these products?

There are no specific products, but I assure you that this downward trend will affect most consumed food items like canned tomato, soft drinks…

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