(TAP) – “Tunisia is currently halfway, courage is needed to accomplish the reforms and succeed in boosting growth,” said Bjoern Rother International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission chief for Tunisia, adding that the country “is on the right track”.
Speaking at a press conference held Wednesday at the headquarters of the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT), on the conclusion of the third review of the agreement in favour of Tunisia under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) the official said he was “optimistic”, saying that our country has finally started to leave behind a very difficult period.
“Growth is now back, especially in the fields of agriculture, manufacturing, investment …”,he further said.
In the same context, he commended the improvement on the level of achievement of the structural economic reforms that are well underway, especially as regards monetary policy, with measures targeting inflation.
He also expressed satisfaction at the efforts made to reduce the deficit, and consequently the debt, and to ensure greater tax fairness.
Regarding structural reforms, Rother praised the measures taken to fight corruption, notably through the launch of the single window and the protection of the most vulnerable fringes of the population, thanks to the increase in social funds, the extension of social security coverage and the launching of the database of needy families throughout the republic, which is able to ensure a better targeting of this population.
However, the official said Tunisia faces several challenges, including inflation, which remains the biggest problem. It is also, according to him, to reduce the unemployment rate which remains high (15%) by creating sustainable jobs through the private sector, as well as reducing external public debt, encourage investment, control purchasing power and ensure critical imports (energy, medicines, etc.).
For his part, Governor of the BCT, Marouan Abassi, said that over the last six months, the economy has returned to its usual operating pace, citing the significant return of investors.
He also stressed that since the beginning of 2018, reforms are being implemented in a coordinated manner between the BCT and the various ministries concerned, in consultation with the IMF.
“Our negotiations with the IMF are constructive, and the reforms we have initiated are not guidelines of the Fund, but they are necessary actions that we have postponed for years,” he said.
Referring to the question of the increase in the key interest rate, Abassi said: “If we have not used these increases over the last two years, we would have seen a double-digit inflation rate, whose repercussions are even more serious.”
“In the current situation, inflation is the greatest evil that must be fought in Tunisia to ensure price stability and preserve the purchasing power of the citizen,” he said.
According to the governor, “by 2019, inflation will be stabilised, but only if the real economy works and the reforms are achieved.”