(TAP) – President Beji Caid Essebsi and the signatories of the Carthage Document met on Saturday to consider an increase of aid for poor families in emergency talks in a bid to defuse tensions following anti-austerity protests.
“We discussed the general situation in the country and the reforms, especially socio-economic, that must be adopted to overcome the current problems,” Wided Bouchamaoui, President of UTICA employers association, told reporters after the meeting.
Noureddine Taboubi, UGTT Secretary-General said no specific measures were taken but urgent decisions “must be adopted” to aid needy families and improve the social safety net.
A Tunisian government source said that a package of measures would include extra aid to needy poor families and people.
Peaceful protests broke out across Tunisia after the government adopted a new budget that led to increase of taxes and surging cost of living on January 1.
Khlifa Chibani, a spokesman for the Interior ministry, said on Saturday a total of 803 people suspected of taking part in acts of violence, theft and looting have been arrested since last Sunday.
Attending the meeting, the Secretaries-General of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) and the Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries (UTAP), the President of the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), the President of the National Union of Tunisian Women (UNFT) and leaders of the Nidaa Tounes movement, the Ennahdha movement, the Al-Massar party, the Al-Mubadara party and the Free Patriotic Union party (UPL).
The meeting is held one week after a meeting convened by the Head of the State on January 5 and following the outbreak of protest movements in several regions of the country and the registration of acts of looting and vandalism in the past week.