The draft economic budget for 2012 expects a growth rate of 4.5%, while the latest estimates of the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) forecast a growth not exceeding 1% for 2011.
The draft budget was presented to the Cabinet meeting of October 20, 2011, i.e., three days before the elections of the Constituent Assembly which saw the Islamic Ennahdha Movement’s victory, with 41.47% of seats.
According to a synthesis prepared by the Ministry of Planning and International Co-operation, the 2012 economic budget is different from those drawn up under the former regime. It singles out shortcomings in total transparency, according to its initiators, particularly at the regional and social levels. It has integrated different themes considered as taboos, such as good governance, fight against unemployment, regional disparities and social conditions. The economic budget was included in the program proposed by the current Government for the period between 2012 and 2016, without referring entirely, as usual, to the 12th Plan.
Emphasis was placed, in this regard, on the 2012-2013 period, corresponding to the completion of the political transition process.
The Interim Government will make available to the next Government this document which it considers as “an attempt to diagnose problems that led to the January 14 Revolution and find solutions to them.”
Main goals of the 2012 economic budget
The main target set by the development scheme for 2012 is to achieve a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 4.5%, in constant prices, and the increase of goods and services exports by 7%, compared with the 2.4-per-cent drop recorded in 2011.
The report on the economic budget for next year also foresees a rise of investments by 18.4% and the creation of at least 75,000 jobs. It relies on the job offers of the Libyan market, estimated at more than 200,000 jobs.
With a current deficit of about 5.4 % and a budget deficit of at least 6 %, needs in matters of financing, notably external, will rise, according to the document.
Consequently, Tunisia should count on its key foreign partners to mobilize the needed funding, notably those promised as part of Deauville process. The point, though, is to see to keeping the rate of indebtedness within the limits of 38.8%, bearing in mind that the latter has reached 38.2% in 2011.
According to the same document, achieving these goals hinges on the scope of the structural overhaul, improvement of the business climate, review of the investment and initiative encouragement system, re-structuring of the economic fabric and stabilization of the banking sector.
Moreover, the report also recommends strengthening the exportation activity and encouraging a greater integration of the national economy into the world economic activity. Reviving production sectors:
Regarding the production sectors, the report on the 2012 draft economic budget foresees a gradual return of activity of these sectors which had been negatively impacted by the recent events in the country, namely the sectors of tourism, transport, phosphates, etc., and the development of technology-content industries.
It targets the vitalization of regional development by means of extending the highway network, reinforcing of 200 km of regional classified roads and fitting out of 1,000 km of rural tracks, in addition to the asphalting of 760 km of other roads and the development of the railway network.
The creation of 24 industrial zones, including 17 in the regional development zones, the refitting of 9 other industrial areas and the formation of a land property reserve of about 150 hectares are also planned. Moreover, improving the citizens’ living conditions, guaranteeing social equity, supplying the rural areas with drinkable water and boosting environmental protection, not to mention the improvement of sanitation services, notably in rural areas, are also scheduled.
The other recommendations of the report are: fight against industrial pollution and the development of the energy control actions.
Zero in human development:
The economic budget revolves, according to the Planning and International Co-operation Ministry, around a new perception of the development of social areas, the aim being to guarantee the improvement of services, to better target the categories that are to benefit from social interventions, i.e., the most underprivileged ones, and help these classes move upwards from the status of beneficiaries to that of the productive forces.
As to education, the report on the 2012 draft economic budget recommends to improve the efficiency of the national education system. It also suggests opting for the direction of job creation, extensions and modernization of projects towards the most promising sectors on the labor market, notably in the inland regions.
The development plan proposes to fight against the poverty and marginalization phenomena by increasing up to 185,000 the number of the needy-family benefiting from the assistance programs and by raising the amount of the allowances doled out to them.
Emphasis is also placed on making easier these needy categories’ access to the health care services, direct aid and preferential credits.