Has Kais Saied’s government failed to deal with the economic crisis? | Economy

Tunisia– In the municipality of Majelebel Abbas, one of the local government centers of the Kasserine province in west-central Tunisia, clashes and serious stampedes broke out in the main store to buy a carton of milk or a bag of sugar, due to semolina There is a serious shortage of these two ingredients, flour and bread. Long queues formed in front of bakeries and they closed early.

These scenes have become commonplace in most Tunisian provinces, and although the government has issued assurances from time to time that imported basic supplies will arrive at Tunisian ports, they have not yet arrived, sparking continued concern among the public. The country is witnessing a growing economic crisis.

widely criticized

The severe cold did not stop people in the border city from waiting in front of a store since the early morning. Fights broke out in the long queue, resulting in many people being injured in the fight. Priority was given to getting a bag of semolina amid angry reactions to limited quantities and scarcity.

: Tunisian citizens queue up to buy bread in front of a bakery/Khadra neighborhood in May 2023
Serious stampede breaks out at main store in Majlebel Abbas city (Al Jazeera)

In an interview with Al Jazeera, forty-year-old citizen Reda Shabani complained about the scarcity and scarcity of some supplies, saying: “You have to get up early, stand in the front row, and be ready to attack to get supplies.” A bag of candy , a carton of milk. The scene here is like a wrestling ring,” quipped: “This is Tunisia. 2023″.

Ahlam Haji, for her part, said she has started quitting her job and waiting for long hours in front of stores until a truck arrives at any moment. Amidst the crowds and chaos, she might end up with a carton of milk or a box of milk. milk. She might get nothing, thinking: I don’t know how long it will last. Such daily hardship and suffering?

Most citizens we interviewed agreed that some stores make other food items a condition of obtaining a missing basic material, such as semolina, flour, sugar and vegetable oil, while others deliberately sell them at double the price, despite Censorship and economic sanctions imposed by Tunisian authorities.

Over the weekend, Trade and Export Development Minister Kulsoom bin Rajab confirmed in a media statement that there were irregularities in some sugar distribution circles for household consumption at subsidized prices, with the unorganized sector benefiting from it.

Inventory shortage

In 2023, losses in basic consumer goods such as coffee, sugar, milk and semolina are no better than in the previous two years, and the situation has further worsened since the current president took office. Keith Said He announced special measures to the Holy See of Carthage, changed the system of government, and led a new government.

Economist Aram Belhadj believes the crisis is not just about the struggle of the post-revolutionary government to lay out a clear economic vision to deal with the global Inefficiency in terms of economic changes, especially ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Tunisian citizens queue up in front of a bakery to buy bread/Kadra District/Tunisia/May 2023
Tunisian citizens line up to buy bread in front of a bakery in the Al-Khadra neighborhood of the capital (Al Jazeera)

Belhadj said there is a shortage of strategic grain stocks that can only last for three months at most, adding that this shortage is related to several external factors, including financial factors and the inability of the Tunisian state to rescue. suppliers, and its inability to finance farmers.

Economic expert Reda Al-Shakandali said in a statement to Al Jazeera that the milk shortage is caused by farmers’ reluctance to raise dairy cows because of the high cost of the value of feed provided, especially given the The Tunisian dinar fell against the dollar and euro.

He added that strategic reserves have been eroded due to the Tunisian government's inability to mobilize external resources such as hard currency and its choice to repay foreign debt while reducing the supply of some raw materials, as well as the state's withdrawal. Liquidity from banks funds their internal borrowings.

grain stocks

Against this background, Shukri Rizqi, vice-president for agricultural production at the Farmers and Fisheries Union (Farmers' Union), told Al Jazeera that 2022/2023 is the worst year in history for food production because Productivity (cereals) reached 200.9 million quintals, of which 900 quintals were cut, 1000 quintals for ordinary and fine seeds and the rest for grinding.

He added that the production of the food crop is only enough to meet the country's total consumption needs for three months, prompting the country to import more grains from foreign markets, stressing that the country's total consumption needs are about three months per year. Thousands of tons of grain.

Experts on economic affairs believe that this situation will have a negative impact on food bills in Tunisia, considered one of the largest importers of cereals in North Africa, as available alternatives are very limited and negotiations continue to be troubled. .. International Monetary Fund Received $1.9 million worth of financing.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, since the third quarter of 2023, the inflation rate has reached 8.3% and the unemployment rate has reached 15.8%.

government failure

In this foggy situation, economic expert Alan Bel-Haj believes in an interview with Al Jazeera that the Saied government, which every time says it has seized large quantities of consumer goods, is still unable to end the tension and anxiety on the streets of Tunisia, and warned Talk about the difficult economic situation in the coming period.

Belhadj believes that the ongoing crisis of basic food shortages is evidence of the failure of President Said's government to develop solutions to the economic crisis, noting that all monopoly indicators and weak economic regulations point to an imminent economic collapse.

Belhaj emphasized the need to digitize the circulation path of subsidized materials as soon as possible, strictly control the milk and feed production system, and severely punish monopolies.

Tunisian President Kais Saied has refused to accept what he called “directives”, notably those to remove subsidies on some basic consumer goods and restructure state institutions facing difficulties, and criticized private banks, which he said make huge profits Profits must help rebuild the country's economy.

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