- Visiting the country to analyze the economic and structural problems of Tunisia, and thus provide its recommendations, the representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Jerome Vacher said that reforms were of course necessary, but that this small Maghreb country had several interesting economic assets.
A need for reform
Unsurprisingly, the IMF proposes reforms for Tunisia to get out of the economic crisis it has been suffering since the Arab Spring, accentuated by the Covid-19 crisis. Reforms that must affect the public service first, whose 650,000 employees represent half of the annual budget of the state. But to do this, no question for Mr. Vacher to go through an austerity plan traditionally used by states in crisis “An austerity program in Tunisia, just after the Covid, would be catastrophic. It is necessary to think of steps, before arriving gradually to reduce the public service, “he said.
For the economist, it is instead a recovery plan tailored to the country’s economic difficulties that must be implemented by the Tunisian government, with the support of the IMF. And for good reason, according to Jerome Vacher, Tunisia has several assets that must be recognized: its economic growth, on the one hand, up to 3% in 2021, also expected in 2022. In addition, the country has a “very qualified and high quality” workforce according to Mr. Vacher, but also an advantageous geographical position: gateway to Africa from the Mediterranean and its trade routes.
No bankruptcy possible for the IMF
Although the country is facing some political and economic upheavals, the IMF does not see any sign of economic bankruptcy for the moment: “There is a budgetary management that is being done and adapted to the situation, not necessarily optimal but manageable,” according to Jérôme Vacher, who also underlines the foresight of the government of Prime Minister Najla Bouden, who has asked the IMF to draw up a new aid program.
These difficulties do not seem insurmountable to the International Monetary Fund, which is ready to support the country if the government commits to structural reforms.