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Tunisia: statistics reborn from their ashes

The controversy over the credibility of statistics is one of the topics that have spilled much ink in Tunisia since January 14, 2011. This has dictated the National Statistics Institute (INS) to use all its energy to defend its positions on the one hand, and work to convince Tunisians wary vis-à-vis the figures it produced to disguise the truth, on the other hand.

A position which Jalel Eddine Ben Rejeb, Director General of the National Statistical Institute (NSI) sought to confirm on Thursday, September 13, during a press conference at the headquarters of the INS by stating that “today nobody can question or challenge our statistics. We work according to international standards and we observe very strict rules. ”

He made an assessment of the economic and social situation of the country for the first eight months in 2012 and spoke about the future of the country and its economy.

Unemployment falling

According Jalel Eddine Ben Rejeb, the unemployment rate shrunk by 0.5 points from 18.1% in the first quarter of 2012 to 17.6% at the end of the second quarter of the same year. The number of unemployed was 691,600 out of a total labor force of 3,923.200 at the end of June 2012. The unemployment rate for men stood at 14.6% against 25.6% for women.

For graduates of higher education, the rate is 26.9% (against 33.6% in the second quarter of 2011). It is 15.8% for males and 40.2% for women. At the regional level, Tataouine remains the most affected region with a rate of 51.7% of unemployed.

Speaking of job creation, he noted that 24,500 new job positions were created during this period, mainly in the services sector, agriculture and fisheries and manufacturing industries.

The consumer price index rose, according to the CEO of the NSI, from 4.2% in July 2011 to 5.6% in August 2012, which corresponds to a growth of 1.4%. The food and drinks are leading with 6.8% in August 2012 against 4.5 in 2011.

A record trade deficit of 7 billion

Speaking about Tunisia’s external trade, he said exports reached 17,407.4 MTD at the end of August while imports totaled 2,832.4 MTD.

The trade deficit has thus worsened, reaching 7,425.0 MTD against 4,924.9MTD during the first half of 2011.

It should be noted that imports continue to grow at a considerable rate. At the end of August, in fact, exports grew only 3.2%, while imports rose by 14%. This is explained by the increase in imports in many sectors, namely energy with (37.7%), food (15.3%). However, a significant regression was recorded in textile exports which reached -9.6% against +9%, contrary to the exports of phosphates which grew 18.8%.

On another level, the official indicated that the growth rate of the economy in Tunisia reached 2.1% in the second quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011 against 3.3% in the first half of 2012.

This is attributed to an increase in value added in non-industrial sectors, specifically the evolution of market services 5% reflecting a 13.4% improvement of services in hotels and cafes and 9.5% growth in transport services. The non-market services sector rose by 6.4%.

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