Democratic elections are likely to revive an economy brought to its knees by the Revolution that swept the oligarchic regime of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia, Mustapha Kamel Ennabli expects.
After years of growth averaging five percent, the revolution that began in January 2011 precipitated Tunisia in a spiral of economic free fall.
“The priority is the return of international and domestic investment, which we hope will come with that of democracy,” the Governor of BCT told AFP news agency.
Islamist party Ennahda won 90 of the 217 seats in the Constituent Assembly in the October 23 election and is now expected to form an interim government and to write the long-awaited new constitution.
Ennahda reiterated its assurances to investors that Tunisia will remain an attractive country for business.
But the economy had contracted by three percent in the first quarter and a rate of growth of only 0.5% is expected for the full year 2011.
According to the Governor of the BCT, growth will improve with the return of confidence. However, he warned that “in order to create enough jobs and address social disparities,” Tunisia must achieve an annual growth rate of 7%.
High unemployment has been a key factor in the fall of the regime of Ben Ali. Now, the challenge is not only to lower the unemployment rate by 20 percent, but to provide jobs to the legions of unemployed university graduates.
“Whatever the difficulties ahead, he said, I am confident that Tunisia has left the danger zone and the economy is moving in the right direction.”
With disorder, the tourism sector, which contributes normally up to seven percent in the economy, hit the bottom. But after falling 60 percent in the first quarter, the sector has shown signs of recovery.
Despite the trouble, “public services continued to function, and in April, we noted a slight increase in manufactured exports,” said Ennabli.
“The economic recovery is here. It is fragile, but the macroeconomic balances are satisfactory, “he said, adding that 2012 will be a good year.
“If the transition goes well, democracy gives us a distinct advantage because our society will operate more transparently. We got rid of a predatory regime where corruption was the rule and that should open a space for investment, “he said.
The Governor of the Central Bank said in conclusion that growth in Tunisia will also depend on the evolution of economic activity in Europe, which accounts for 80 percent of trade, as well as the situation in Libya, which is the second largest trading partner of Tunisia after France.