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Tunisia: Jalloul Ayed between his vocation as architect and the needs of businessmen for emergency physician

Two weeks after his meeting, July 29, 2011, with different Tunisian and foreign officials to discuss the project of the creation of the Deposit and Consignment Office in Tunisia, Tunisian Minister of Finance Jalloul Ayed invites himself to the Tunisian employers’ organisation (UTICA).

On the agenda of this meeting with businessmen, the situation and prospects of businesses after the revolution.

The meeting comes at a time when businessmen are faced with obstacles that could further delay economic recovery.

Optimistic as usual, Minister Ayed begins with a “do not be afraid of the future.” For him, “democratic transition is the first step that will open a new page for Tunisia and will be followed by democratic consolidation. And this could exist only if there is a feeling of prosperity.”

Ayed the architect…

For this highly professional financier, converted into Minister, “the recession, aversion to investment, rising unemployment and the lack of robust tools to support investment, are the realities of the country that need to be treated as it should.” He does recognize the limits of the action of all the interim government in which he works, saying: “the state made a lot of things but can not do everything.” To the Minister of Finance, part of the solution could rest then in providing better conditions for strengthening prosperity and promoting private investment as quickly as possible. However, he does not seem to be sure, since he asks, before these same businessmen, “if they have the capacity to initiate such an investment operation” and even answers negatively.

Jalloul Ayed explained saying that “since the independence, the government has set up support structures and not investment structures. It was however necessary to act by setting up new mechanisms “that form the solution. The finance minister then details his solution to the problems of investment and unemployment.

It will include measures such as the creation of the Deposit and Consignment Office (CDC) and the Strategic Investment Fund “Generational Fund,” two instruments that will seek to boost the economic wheel.

The minister does not seem to stop there, as he already announced “other mechanisms under way and many other reforms to be undertaken, particularly for the banking sector.”

… In front of UTICA which is seeking an emergency physician.

During the debate, several businessmen have questioned the future of investment in Tunisia, especially with the worsening of protests. Hichem Elloumi, who is not as optimistic as the finance minister, emphasizes in his speech the social instability and security and the lack of visibility that could plunge the country into chaos.

He finished yet [he choose?], determined by a “we will go to investment and we take risks in contrast to foreign contractors.” Wided Bouchammaoui, will speak more as president of the employers organisation than a businesswoman, claiming that strikes and sit-ins are behind the difficulties encountered by several domestic and foreign companies, operating in Tunisia “Our concern is to preserve existing employment positions and save the sustainability of businesses.”

She will not miss, in the presence of the Minister who is also in charge of customs too, to address the case of parallel trade, to raise this issue and call on the different customs services to carry out continuous monitoring to end this phenomenon considered harmful to many sectors.

Taoufik Aribi, businessman from Sousse, succeeded her to remind the Minister of Finance of the delay in compensation for damaged businesses, following acts of looting and fires that occurred at the time of the revolution. “Only 22 companies have received compensation and 60% of cases submitted by all the companies are still facing problems,” he said.

The speaker called for coordination between central and regional authorities in this area with greater speed, responsiveness and simplicity in dealing with these issues. It was thus clear that the concerns between the Minister and businessmen were different.

While Jalloul Ayed was focusing in his speech and his plan to revive the economy in the long term and the outlook, their vis-à-vis are still obsessed with the short term and rather in resolving emergencies.

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