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Tunisia: Jbali presents his Government and his program: déjà vu, elementary and sketchy

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jbali presented his Cabinet pending the vote of confidence of the Constituent Assembly allowing it to start working. Jbali also read out the action program of this government for the year 2012. Listening to this program, a sense of unfinished business and a sense of déjà vu emerges strongly.
Indeed, apart from the some 5 million Tunisian dinars MTD (42 members including Jbali accounting for 10,000 TD each, which is the cost of a government post, according to experts) that will represent the cost of the government budget of a State in very difficult financial situation, the program of the new Tunisian Prime Minister does not announce any miracle remedy for the two main problems of post Ben Ali’s Tunisia, namely unemployment and economic recession. 
The program has a downright social orientation with an omission, almost systematic, of the economic component which is yet the real challenge for the Revolution and the true yardstick by which success will be judged.
Regarding employment, the prime minister confined himself to increasing the burden of public service, already overburdened by 20 to 25,000 new jobs to be created. It was, moreover, far from the election promises of 500,000 jobs (even if we consider that this figure was for 5 years). The old and new jobless have then to wait more.
Jbali also promised in the Government’s statement, more job positions in Libya in the Gulf and Europe. And if the first two destinations could be viable, Europe, with its own fish to fry as a result of an economy that is in immediate recession for some countries in 2011 and declining for others, is unable to create enough jobs for its citizens and ours.
Always focusing excessively on the social component, Hamadi Jbali talks about new wage increases. He forgets that Tunisian companies are already burdened by salary costs arising from various increases and are under pressure as a result of strikes or following negotiations.
In economic matters, the Tunisian prime minister talked with many generality and used chapter headings that sounded as déjà vu in the economic schemes of the former presidential programs of Ben Ali. 
These chapter headings include the revision of the tax system, modernization of the banking system or the revitalization of the financial market. 

Though some ideas were launched here and there like the supplementary budget for tourism promotion and the new railway Tunis-Kasserine, they remain insignificant.
No word was said on the orientations and ways to revive the economy. Nothing was said in the keynote speech on the situation of Tunisian businesses that have not yet seen the end of the tunnel of strikes and sit-ins. Nothing was said about any assistance to be provided to exporting companies that are losing their competitive capabilities month after month. Nothing was said or announced on the promotion of investment and improvement of the conditions of investment at a time when employers and economists are sounding the alarm bell on the shutting down of plants. No word was said about the means and resources that can fund his program. Especially since Jbali, in his social desire to cozy up the Revolution, plans to increase the amount of aid to needy families and expand the number of recipients to 235,000 families. No word on the origin of resources needed for his government’s program, at a time when there is so much talk on the debt of Tunisia, on its sovereign rating and its ability to borrow from foreign markets. No word either on alternatives for financing a budget about which he said nothing.
They are 18 points enunciated in a monotone by a prime minister who is already criticized on the number and quality of his government, in an elementary and sketchy presentation, that does nothing to allay the economic fears that start to overtake citizens who have already given up the fight politically.


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