When the government predicted $ 54 per barrel in its 2018 draft Finance Act, experts in economy said this assumption was unrealistic and that we would definitely exceed 60 dollars this year.
The World Bank too was of the same opinion, and its opinion counts. But now, the government turned a deaf ear.
We can also put forward the explanation that Youssef Chahed’s team would have done so knowingly not to, from the outset, scare donors and the IMF with a budget deficit that would be even greater if the barrel price had been set at $ 60 or more.
In any event, the respite has been short-lived, and no one can hide the scale of the problem anymore.
“The energy deficit continues to worsen with the continuing rise in the oil barrel price that reached $ 68 today, while the price of a barrel was set at $ 54 in the state budget for 2018, which would have negative repercussions on our financial equilibrium, “Khaled Kaddour, Minister of Energy, Mining and Renewable Energies said Thursday at a press conference organized on the margins of the conference “accelerating the implementation of energy efficiency programs”.
Kaddour estimated that this difference in the oil price ($ 13) will cost about 121 million dinars (MD) to the state budget, just for the first quarter of 2018.
“It is in this context that we must, imperatively, anchor the principles of energy management and steer us more towards energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, in order to manage our energy consumption, and this, within the framework of a clear vision, “he noted.
According to the minister, Tunisia will work by 2020 to implement all energy projects announced by the Prime Minister which will reduce the use of conventional energy and build a new sustainable economic model.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, announced Thursday, the launch, in the coming weeks of ten renewable energy projects representing an investment volume of 200 million dinars (MD), as well as other projects intended for inland regions, which will be launched through tenders, with a capacity of 800 megawatts (MW) and mobilizing an investment of 2,000 MD.
As for the energy subsidy for the year 2018, Kaddour has estimated that it will far exceed the government’s forecast set at 1,500 MD (state budget) to reach 2,500 MD, given the continuous rise in the oil barrel price, which forced the government to increase fuel prices last week.
But that will not be enough to fend off the dark clouds on the horizon, as admitted by the Minister responsible for Major Reforms, Taoufik Rajhi.
On another note, the minister reassured that phosphate production has resumed at an ordinary pace and that the government is ensuring that it meets all its commitments to residents in the mining and Tataouine regions to ease social tensions.
It should be noted, the minister said, that Tunisia’s energy resources have covered only about 50% of domestic demand for primary energy, estimated at about 9,551 thousand tons of oil equivalent (toe), while national resources did not exceed 4,840 thousand toe, which represents a deficit of the order of 4,711 thousand toe.
Final energy consumption amounted to 6,775 thousand toe at the end of 2016, divided essentially between transport (35%), industry (32%), housing (17%), (9%) and agriculture (7%).