The statement made by Interim Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali before Tunisian businessmen abroad on the existence of a list of 460 Tunisian businessmen, who are currently banned from traveling, has added confusion to the real intentions of the Tunisian government in place to improve the investment climate.
This is all the more true, as this government continues to call on Tunisian investors to set an example for the FDI Tunisia is trying either to retain or to attract.
The president of the employers’ organization had expressed it best by asking for “strong signals from the government to reassure everyone,” in a direct reference to the multiple measures and court cases targeting businessmen and the lists of travel bans. “People need to work peacefully. Those who have sinned must be tried so as to overcome this situation of confusion suffered by the entire class of businessmen, “she said in substance.
Samir Dilou told us, on the occasion, that he has already met the families of these businessmen and even the family of the only businessman who is in prison, adding that he even “suggested his release in return for large investments in poor areas.” “What good would be a businessman in prison?” he wondered.
The Minister of Transitional Justice seems to fully understand the concerns of businessmen and traders in this issue of the list of 460, and even admitted in a press conference Monday at the headquarters of his ministry, that “there are real economic problems. These men are forbidden to travel, but also banned from investment and we cannot deprive the country of the investment opportunities “they could bring to Tunisia.
Minister of transitional justice, as he is, Samir Dilou seems to be in a position where imperatives are opposed, as he does not mince words to say it before the local and international media present. “We must find the appropriate solution that allows us not to deprive the country of those investments and not to fall into impunity and non-transparent negotiated settlements.” So, it is a position between the hammer of economic imperatives and the anvil of justice which must be still rendered.
And Dilou cut the road even before any attempt of pressure, that could probably have been exerted on him, by receiving families even of former Tunisian officials already in flight and whom their parents want to see them return home. “The settlement cannot be made case by case. It cannot also come from the Government. It can only spring from a national will.” Pressed to elaborate, he discussed without dwelling “perhaps on the possibility of financial compensation.”
Dilou was however even more pressed to be more explicit about this issue, especially since on the list of 460 businessmen banned from travelling, there are also people who are subject to this ban, only for preventive purposes, without any investigation of a case or even a judicial inquiry. Journalists had even mentioned, as a question, the possibility of taking urgent and exceptional measures for those who are subject of any complaint or investigation. He nevertheless remained intransigent, using words with skill to be able to dodge questions about this, merely saying, with his customary cheerful smile, that “the information I have does not allow me to answer your questions.” However, media managed to tap into this clever speaker, especially in Arabic language and dialect, that the case is under review and decisions about it will come very soon. He stated: “it will be settled in weeks not months.”