In addition to national security, the economy will be a top priority of the new Tunisian government of national unity headed by 40-year-old Prime Minister Youssef Chahed who took office on August 29, 2016 and belongs to the social-liberal party Nidaa Tounes.
With economic growth at a mere 1%, official unemployment rate at around 15%, the grey economy making almost 50% of the whole economy and therefore much less government revenue, Chahed considered he has the duty to tell the truth. That’s why he proposed the “state of economic emergency” for Tunisia that has plunged into an economic crisis exacerbated by regional instability and terrorism since the “Arab spring” that toppled former President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.
The 25% decline in the value of the Tunisian dinar (TND), the doubling of the budget deficit to 6.7 billion dinars and the national debt now at 56 billion dinars or 62% of GDP over the last five years has created “an exceptional situation (which) requires exceptional measures,” Chahed explained.
Considering the country’s economic growth is unlikely to exceed 1.6% in 2017 and the daunting challenge of reducing the grey economy, Tunisia will both have to reassure international creditors and envisage some austerity measures particularly in the public service.