Since the 60s Tunisia economic performance has been following a relatively growing trend. The strong human capital base, as well as the adaptability of the Tunisian people to transforms, and that’s due to many historical and environmental aspects, are the main factors behind the sustainable Tunisian economy.
The Government role to emphasize the economy is crucial, no question about it, although not in the case of Tunisia, where the government has always been an obstacle to a healthier economic expansion, considering all the potential that Tunisia has to pursue the path of countries like Greece, Cyprus, Malta, or south Korea. But the kleptocratic nature of the regime, as well as bureaucracy, and atrocious regulations have been drastically decelerating Tunisia’s economics prospective.
Not to mention all the efforts made by the regime’s propaganda machine to capitalize on the little progress made by the Tunisian people to draw a falsely successful picture, take the credit for it, build on it the whole strategic theme of Ben Ali’s electoral campaign, and make it the main argument for “Tunisians” to beg him and persuade him to run yet again for a fifth consecutive term!
I would further state, and according to unconfirmed sources, that Ben Ali’s personal fortune is estimated by Forbes magazine to exceed 5 Billion dollars, while the external debt per Tunisian is rising greater than ever since Ben Ali’s coup d’état, increasing from 887 USD in 1987 to nearly 2000 USD per citizen in 2008! (see External debt per Tunisian figure below)
It should be noted also, that by the end of 2005, and as stated by the Tunisian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 194 companies had been privatized at a total value of 2.4 billion TND ($1.8 billion). In 2006 the country had seen its biggest-ever privatization operation in terms of value, when Ben Ali’s regime sold 35% of the national telecommunications company Tunisie Telecom, which represents, according to the same source, almost twice as much as all other privatizations since 1987 combined.
The figures below go over the main points of the historical growth of Tunisia’s economy, and putting in perspective Bourguiba’s to Ben Ali’s era:
2009 – Nawaat.org