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Tunisia: New measures in favour of consumers are underway

The monthly economic data and studies magazine «Conjuncture” provides in its March 2009 issue, the first elements of a new economic policy that seems to be emerging quietly in the offices of the Tunisian Government. If this comes true, the Tunisian development model  could take another direction. It is so far based on exports which account for more than 60% of Tunisian GDP, a share that has continued to grow in importance, from 43% in 2003 to reach a value of 30,708 MDT in 2008 recording an average growth of 5% per year.
This pattern of development, where development depends heavily on exports, drew the outlines of the first economic recovery plan that focuses on exporting companies. Steps have been taken during the two Cabinet meetings of November 23, 2008 and January 30, 2009.

Private consumption to compensate for external demand.

It seems now that the Tunisian government is preparing the second economic recovery plan and had yet  completed the benchmarking results from the first one. It did more than moving to a track other than  export to stimulate and sustain growth. “The stimulation of consumption [households] is a serious line of thought, to mitigate the effects of a crisis that threatens our country,” says “Conjoncture” released by the ministries of Trade and Industry, after stating that “the consumption of households can play, even among us, a very important role.”

The idea is not new, and more than one analyst had recommended replacing boosting external demand by a domestic demand driving force. It includes government consumption, private consumption and investment. All these components are constantly evolving and, according to figures released by the monthly magazine, the mere amount of private consumption (31,168 MDT in 2008) is slightly larger than that of exports (30,708 MDT).

The relationship between consumption and growth is obvious, although the Tunisian government has sought to curb the consumption whose engine remains the bank credit. Local investment was able to capture foreign brands that attract the consumer as foreign investment got Tunisian consumers started with foreign brands. That means more production and therefore more growth and more jobs. This track is so interesting that the Tunisian industry is beginning to be able to be exported through extension. This also is so feasible that the Tunisian income grew from 3301 DT in 2003 to 4911 DT to reach certainly 5226 DT later this year.

New measures in favour of consumers?

Clues related to this new track abound in “Conjoncture” article. “It is worth wondering towards what niche it would be wise to steer reforms and incentives in order to overcome  negative impacts» said the article which adds that” it is important to direct a portion of revival measures to household’s consumption “. Finally, the information provided as an indication states that “through the continuation of this spirit marking the revival plan of the national economy, further measures in favour of household consumption, with a view to boosting economic growth, are underway. The information is released. Wait and See!

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