The Executive Board of the Central Bank of Tunisia pointed to the slowdown in certain indicators in the first quarter of 2012, particularly production and exports of manufacturing industries and services, especially transport, while other indicators, like tourism and imports of capital goods, continue to progress.
The Board also noted, at its meeting on Wednesday, the continued increase in imports at an accelerated pace while exports of manufacturing industries, particularly manufactured industries and textile and clothing, have dropped substantially since March. This led to the worsening of the current account deficit. The latter, indeed, reached 2.3% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, resulting in a decrease of net assets in currencies that fell to 9,947 MTD or the equivalent of 101 days of imports against 113 days in late 2011.
In this regard, the Board underlined that these developments are likely to increase pressure on the external sector and would require, if they continue, the mobilization of substantial external resources for the rest of the year.
On the monetary and banking levels, a decline in deposits and an increase in non-performing loans were recorded, resulting in pressure on bank liquidity and hence their ability to finance the economy.
As a result of these pressures, the average interest rate on money market grew to reach 3.73% since the beginning of April against 3.48% last month and this, despite the continuous intervention of the Central Bank in the money market to 3.4 billion dinars on average per day since the beginning of March.
As regards price increases, inflation remained, at the end of March 2012, at a high level of 5.4%. Excluding fresh food, it stood at 4.0%.
In light of these developments, the Board decided to maintain the interest rate of the Central Bank of Tunisia unchanged, stressing the need to ensure the control of factors contributing to rising prices and a continuing prudent monetary policy.
It recommends, also, to work towards improving the investment climate and accelerating the launch of projects planned as part of the Supplementary Budget Law to boost economic activity and support job creation.