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Tunisia: growth in 2015 will be almost zero and WB forecasts are unfounded (Mourad Hattab)

The World Bank (WB) released, Wednesday, June 10, 2015, its Global Economic Prospects (GEP) 2015, foreseeing a growth rate of 2.6% for Tunisia this year, 3.4% in 2016 and 4.5% in 2017. This projection is strongly rejected by Tunisian economic experts who agree that this rate will not exceed 1% for the current year.

Mourad Hattab, specialist in financial risks is one of the experts who disagreed with the figure put forward by the financial institution.

In a statement to Africanmanager, Thursday, June 11, 2015, he said that the World Bank has come up with erroneous and unfounded figures on growth forecasts in Tunisia: “These estimates are political, and this is the first time the Bank comes up with figures without bases,” he said.

The expert in financial risk further stressed that with a very high inflation rate exceeding 7%, Tunisia will never achieve a growth rate equal to or exceeding 1%: “what has been put forward by the World Bank in its latest report is only pure hypothetical speculation,” said Hattab, pointing out that even ministers are aware that growth will be zero at the end of the year 2015, especially since the country is expecting a public deficit of about 7800 million dinars at the end of the year, or 9% of GDP.

He, in the same vein, said that achieving a growth rate of 2.6% in 2015 is now impossible because of the unprecedented crisis facing the country since the Revolution and that has spared no sector in the three key branches of activities of the Tunisian economy, namely tourism, phosphate and oil sectors that may lose more than 29% of their value by the end of this year.

Regarding the tourism sector, our interlocutor said that the current season will be practically lost, especially since activity in more than 50% of hotels has totally shut down and the occupancy rate does not exceed 30% for the rest.

“They are the few hotels leased to foreign tour operators that work today but at a very slow pace,” said Mourad Hattab, noting that “the current summer season will be worse because it will be short because of Ramadan,” he noted.

Regarding the oil sector, the expert said that investors and operators in this area are now facing accusations from all sides. Thus, oil companies and the authorities are undergoing harassment from all sides, according to him.

The transport sector has in turn undergone harassment manipulated by political parties that attempt, he said, to block the industry and stifle every chance of recovery.

This is the same for the building and public works sector (BTP) which is quasi blocked while it stands as one of the most dynamic sectors of the Tunisian economy.

Mourad Hatab was not alone in making such estimates. Former Finance Minister Houcine Dimassi also predicted a growth rate of between 0 and 1% throughout this year, considering that the achievement of a growth rate of 2.6% during this year is impossible.

World Bank predicted in its latest Global Economic Prospects 2015, released Wednesday, that Tunisia’s growth rate would be 2.6% in 2015, 3.4% in 2016 and 4.5% in 2017, explaining that growth in Tunisia has been weakened by deteriorating tourism indicators.

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