The current socio-economic situation in Tunisia proves that Tunisia’s future remains uncertain, in the light of a conflict between the government and the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), experts said.
To protest against the failed negotiations with the government on salary increases in the public sector, the UGTT scheduled a second strike which will occur on Feb. 20-21, 2019.
‘The current economic situation is very tense with red indicators and disturbing imbalances,’ said Moez Joudi, an expert in finance and president of Tunisian Association of Governance (ATG).
‘Growth remains sluggish,’ he said, adding that in 2018, Tunisia recorded a GDP growth rate of around 2.6 percent resulted mostly from the agricultural sector and tourism, as well as a slight recovery in manufacturing activities.
In an interview with Xinhua, Joudi revealed that in 2018, a record inflation of 7.6 percent was marked, impacting the purchasing power of Tunisians and deteriorating the value of Tunisian dinar.
The finance expert added that the trade deficit continued to widen in 2018 to reach an alarming level of 6.3 billion U.S. dollars.
‘The debt continues to grow and is now around 72 percent of the GDP. The increase in the wage bill in the public sector is an aggravating factor including inflation, debt and the budget deficit,’ he regretted.
Indeed, the wage bill is currently around 5.4 billion U.S. dollars and the budget deficit has decreased thanks to the development of tax revenues. In 2018, the budget deficit was 4.9 percent.
Referring to struggle between the government and the UGTT, Sabri Zghidi, a Tunisian political analyst, believes that the impasse does not solely concern the current government, but also all the governments after the revolution, because they have neither an economic approach nor a social vision.
The governments that have come to power since 2011 have no economic and social orientations that take into account the demands of the revolution. However, their orientations were in line with the dictates of global donors including the IMF.
According to Aymen Zammali, a specialist in the Tunisian policy, the UGTT is a part of the political equation in Tunisia, and it has always been present.
Zammali said the UGTT clearly states that it is unhappy with the results achieved by the Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, adding that the union has even threatened to participate in the 2019 electoral process if there were no party capable to run the country.
‘The last general strike of Jan. 17 came at a time when Tunisia needs a new breath and an economic boost,’ said Joudi.
But he warned that this general strike has caused losses between 50 percent and 70 percent of GDP.
‘Regarding the second strike scheduled for Feb. 20-21, frankly, I don’t think it will take place,’ Joudi said.
Joudi said that his country needs, more than ever, stability, vision, a ‘rescue plan’ and a clear commitment ‘to stop the bleeding and ensure a salvific recovery.’
-Tunis Daily News