With 23 dealers, the rolling stock sector is a strategic sector for Tunisian industry. However, this area is beset by problems for years, and the latest events are not the only cause.
This sector has suffered greatly under the influence of the Ben Ali/Trabelsi clan, especially that of the ousted president who had exercised almost a total domination in this sector … This is the diagnosis made by Bakhta Toumi officer in charge of the rolling stock in the Department of Trade and Tourism in an interview with African Manager.
Can you brief us on the rolling stock sector?
It is a free product at imports, but is subject to a technical control that can be summed up in a specification containing the terms and obligations. It is important to note that this specification of August 1995 was changed. Currently, there is no export obligation but an encouragement to investment.
The uprising and riots that followed the fall of the regime of Ben Ali has created some concern among foreign companies, and generated negative economic impact. What are their prospects?
First, we must say that this revolution is a victory for the Tunisians. In this regard, it is important to see the good side of the revolution the country is living through.
Therefore we must take this opportunity to attract foreign investors who will now be convinced to locate on our site, but this would be possible only when efforts will be made to restore calm and stability in our country.
The first positive effect is already proven: Our country has earned a reputation as a value that allowed it to be at the level of competing internationally and was able to challenge its rivals especially with the presence of subsidiaries of major OEMs worldwide … It should be recalled that in Tunisia most providers of global manufacturers are of foreign origin and their number continues to grow day by day.
This demonstrates the strong appeal of our site by offering foreign manufacturers an ideal environment to develop their exporting activities.
In any case, investors are interested in settling in our country for reasons of confidence, convenience and cost, knowing that Tunisia is also the place where we recognize the existence of very competent and qualified human resources. No concerns are noted at this level.
Great efforts have been made to regain the confidence of foreign manufacturers by sending positive messages designed to restore calm, return to work and catch up with late delivery.
In this regard, Tunisia is invited to strengthen facilities and incentives to attract FDI in this field, and similarly support the Tunisian own investments, and this by encouraging the funding of these kinds of promising projects.
How do you assess the situation of rolling stock in light of recent events in Tunisia?
There will be a big change in rolling stock shared out between and dedicated to various companies.
Following the liberalization of the sector, a new channel will be established to ensure equitable distribution of property, contrary to what happened before because of the dominance of several actors belonging to the family of the former president and his allies.
Can you give us an overview on the results of this activity for the past period?
The rolling stock sector has undergone considerable evolution. Value added of exports has changed; it was estimated at about 511 million dinars in 2009 against 502 million dinars and reached 378 million in the nine months of 2010. The sector has also made progress in terms of imports, following the decline of excises from 74,000 dinars in 2010 to 47 thousand dinars in 2002, including 19 thousand dinars for commercial cars and 54 thousand for passenger cars
What do you expect as commitment from the Department in charge to promote this area?
It is imperative now to liberalize the sector. Working according to supply and demand without a specific program. The guidelines center on the development and modernization of transport infrastructure and services, controlling costs, improving security and strengthening the competitiveness of companies operating in this sector.
We are happy and very optimistic about the future of this sector. However, we need to preserve the achievements and examine shortcomings to better progress, grant, on the other hand, more attention to public transport so as to better contribute to the national efforts of revival.