If they remain confident that the financial crisis so far had no impact on the financial system, Tunisian financial authorities seem determined to ensure that this does not happen and take, day after day, necessary measures to provide financial liquidity to Tunisian companies and even foreign ones in order to help them cope with the repercussions of the international crisis.
During its meeting on Tuesday 17 February 2009, the Executive Board of the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT), took the decision to lower the BCT rate by 75 points, bringing it from 5.25 to 4, 5%. This measure, as pointed out by BCT governor in a press conference, was taken in the aftermath of ‘the decline of the consumer prices index , from 4.1% in December, to 3.5% in January 2009. The shift in prices in Tunisia, during January, was limited to less than 0.6%, according to the Governor who adds, optimistically, that “this trend will continue in the coming months. This measure takes effect from the release of BCT communiqué.
Tunisian banks have no more to expect from the BCT that it pumps or injects liquidity , since they can make self-financing at the rate of 5%, which is not viewed as unacceptably high. It is asserted that the Tunisian financial system is not in short of liquidity and it is said that reserves amounting to 800 MDT are available so far, besides 146 days of imports in foreign currency.
Key interest rate cut
Mr. Baccar made it clear that this such a cut in the key interest rate, which should not be confused with the interbank interest rate, is meant to bolster the country’s industrial fabric, improve the small- and medium-sized enterprises’ competitiveness and help these firms preserve jobs and their market share. He said that the decision is part of the BCT’s efforts to curb the impact of the international crisis on the Tunisian economy, following the slowing down of world demand.
He said that recent estimates by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predict a world growth rate of 0.5% in 2009, with a fall of -2% for the industrialised countries, – 1.6% for the United States of America, -2.6% for Japan, while such emerging countries like China and India will experience a positive growth estimated at 3.3% in 2009, compared with 6.3% in 2008.
The BCT Governor underlined that the sought-after target is to provide credit and deposit facilities to banks so as to meet their needs in liquid assets and help them deposit their surplus in the BCT at favourable rates.