ECON4Tunisia initiative presents its economic rescue plan

“About thirty concrete and feasible short-term proposals” to save the Tunisian economy currently in crisis were presented on Thursday in Tunis by economists Hakim Ben Hammouda, Zouhour Karray and Houssem Eddine Chebbi.

They include 32 proposals formulated in a blue book prepared by 70 Tunisian economists working in Tunisia and abroad and recognized worldwide for their skills as part of the ECON4 TUNISIA initiative (Economy for Tunisia), Hakim Ben Hammouda stressed at a meeting with the press.

“The objective being to put economic issues back at the heart of the public debate in order to revive the Tunisian economy currently in crisis,” he said, considering that the majority of the electoral platforms of presidential or legislative candidates have not given the necessary interest to economic challenges.

In turn, Zouhour Karray placed emphasis on the operationality of the proposals presented, which are feasible in the short term, according to Houssem Eddine Chebbi.

The Blue Paper, which has been in preparation since July 7, will be presented tomorrow Friday to the presidential and legislative candidates of 2019, as well as to all political actors, in order to encourage them to make these issues and proposals key topics for discussion, with the aim of inspiring public authorities’ action after the elections, Hakim Ben Hammouda noted.

“It is a book that reflects the authors’ desire to break with the conventional choices that have marked our economic policies and to put imagination to power and boldness in political and economic activity,” he said.

“This blue paper expresses the civic commitment of Tunisian economists to contribute to the public debate and to feed public policies with innovative proposals and projects”, he went on saying.

Ben Hammouda pointed out that the proposals have been formulated around six main priorities to emerge from the current economic crisis and begin a real economic transition.

For the ECON4Tunisia initiative, future economic policies must address six major challenges: stabilization, the return of growth and investment, the functioning of markets, sectoral policies that have long been marginalized in the face of the hegemony of macroeconomic priorities, the governance of economic policies and the social question, which is becoming an urgent issue that has a major impact on the stability and success of the transition.

All proposals follow the same framework and include context, proposal, effects, costs and risks, Ben Hammouda stressed, adding that ECON4Tunisia has sought to measure the macroeconomic impact and impact of the proposals on the economic situation.

For stabilisation, economists propose a fairer and more effective tax system to reduce the public deficit, including “reducing the tax burden to 15% and maintaining tax rate stability for at least” in addition to urgent control of the trade deficit, a coherent economic policy to control inflation, support for monetary policies in the fight against inflation, the change of banknotes in response to smuggling, money laundering and terrorist financing.

To boost growth and investment, experts recommend strengthening portfolio FDI and accelerating the reform of public enterprises.

For more efficient markets, the initiative proposes greater resilience of the banking system, a more active central bank in supporting the economy and improving labour market efficiency to promote employment. It is also about rethinking exchange rate policy, ensuring greater openness of the domestic bond market to foreign investors, accelerating the introduction of companies to the stock market and creating an African Stock Exchange for Agri-food products and services.

With regard to the development of new active sectoral policies, the experts recommend the establishment of an industry 5.0 conducive to the development of value chains and a better positioning on global value chains.

They also call for the implementation of an effective industrialization policy for a structural transformation of the economy, the strengthening of the capacity of Tunisian companies to take advantage of global value chains, new choices in agricultural development, the revision of the policy to support the agricultural sector to preserve the profession of farmer and improve the structural competitiveness of the sector in Tunisia.

They also recommended to accelerate the necessary energy transition, implement the digital revolution and facilitate trade through the reduction of transaction costs of international trade in order to strengthen competitiveness and reduce prices for consumers in addition to supporting the tourism sector in its transformation.

Besides, in order to modernise the governance of economic policies, it is proposed “to ensure greater coherence of economic policies through new forms of economic governance.

It also includes limiting payment delays in order to ensure the sustainability of companies and help them develop, setting up a new strategic body for economic decision-making, the creation of a public debt management agency and a banking sector supervision agency, as well as the creation of an autonomous and independent public policy evaluation agency.

In the social field, the ECON4 Tunisia initiative highlights the need to guarantee a fair, efficient and quality Tunisian school, a school of hope, and to accelerate the reform of the pension system in Tunisia.


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