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Tunisia: Insurance and reinsurance business amid international changes

As part of strengthening the joint Arab cooperation between Arab and foreign insurance and reinsurance companies, the 10th edition of the 2009 Carthage meeting held from 18 to 20 November ended Saturday.
“The challenges facing insurance and reinsurance business amid international changes” was the theme of this meeting which aimed to discuss the impact of the global financial crisis on the Arab insurance and reinsurance market and to exchange experiences in this field.
Africanmanager took the opportunity to call on experts to better brief us on the challenge of this strategic sector in Tunisia in the era of crisis.
Moncef Bouden, Secretary of State in charge of taxation and Mrs. Souhaila Chabchoub President of the Tunisian Committee of Union Insurance and DG at the Ministry of Finance have respectively reported the following:
Moncef Bouden, Secretary of State in charge of taxation, “the insurance business in Tunisia is a catalyst for development”.
To what extent the insurance business is involved in the development of the Tunisian economy?
Despite a difficult international situation and the fallout from the global financial crisis checked during the last months of the year, the Tunisian economy in 2008 recorded a growth of 5.01% in real terms. This result was achieved despite lower production of oil and grain and price pressures in the first half of 2009.
In this case, the insurance business in Tunisia has participated in financing the Tunisian economy, since the insurance money finances investment funds either through the acquisition of fixed assets or liquidity.
This type of investment insures both insurance companies and customers against dangers.
Moreover, insurance companies through attracting long term life insurance poles, fund through their capital major projects that will be able to create more value and curb unemployment and consequently boost the Tunisian economy.
It must be remembered that, at the end, the insurance and reinsurance business is the only sector that has not been affected by the crisis; instead, it recorded a revenue surplus in 2008.
Ms. Souhaila Chabchoub, Chairwoman of the Committee of Union of Tunisian Insurance and DG at the Ministry of Finance: “… good management of insurance companies requires an effective internal self audit ….
How is the situation of the Tunisian insurance sector amid the crisis?
Regarding the impact of the global financial crisis on the Tunisian insurance sector, of course, since we are open to the world and everything that happens elsewhere, we had a small impact in all areas, but thanks to our effective legal framework that is designed to improve prudential behavior within the insurance business and its investment funds, the impact of the crisis on the sector was low since the sector has performed well during this period.
Moreover, the financial crisis that has affected the investment funds sector, i.e. the technical side, the insurance cover, was lenient on the Tunisian investment funds and thanks to the law that provides prudence consistent with the safety of Tunisian investment fund, its liquidity and then profitability.
On the other hand, the Tunisian insurance companies invest their savings in local funds, not in foreign ones, so the international monetary crisis and that securitization that broke out in the United States and spread around the world had no impact on the Tunisian sector and its effect was void.
Your recommendations and advice to Tunisian insurance companies in your capacity of supervisory authority
The international economic crisis has raised the issue of failure of state control on financial institutions. But this is not true, because the state control over its financial institutions is not sufficient and control should be larger. In fact, before talking about the control exerted by the supervisory authority, insurance companies must be aware of the role of internal oversight bodies of the company.
Thus the control of the regulator takes place is the second instance just to check security procedures and ensure efficient proceedings and healthy functioning of insurance companies and not the opposite.
Thus the new rules of governance require a wise self-supervision of insurance companies designed to ensure durability and balance during the crisis. “

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