Tunisia. Government Raises Consumer Prices to “Appease” IMF, Some Claim

In early May, an official delegation to Washington D.C. met with International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials for discussions on a new loan program for Tunisia. According to a leaked, confidential document allegedly produced by the Tunisian government which Bloomberg reported on (but did not publish), the government proposed removing food and energy subsidies as part of these discussions. In May and June, the prices of several consumer goods, including subsidized sugar, were raised or increased. Some have claimed these price increases were meant to “appease” the IMF as part of the ongoing loan discussions.

Souk Sidi Boumendil: Survival by deconfinement

A sea of cars fills the street from Bab Alioua to Bab Jazira. Dozens of people carrying plastic bags are on the lookout for available taxis which are few and far between. The closer one gets to Boumendil, the thicker the crowd becomes. In this souk, a hub for contraband, life is returning to normal as Aid draws near. But the threat of Coronavirus hovers all along this street that is teeming with foot traffic.

The Coronavirus infects Tunisia’s economy

On March 16, Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh announced a series of decisions that were not without economic consequences. Beyond the closure of air and land borders (except to goods and to flights carrying Tunisians returning from abroad), Fakhfakh announced the cancellation of all cultural, scientific and sports events. These new measures were implemented in addition to the 4pm closing time imposed on cafés, restaurants and bars. The pandemic is taking a toll on the global economy, and Tunisia has not been spared.

Finance law 2019: exacerbating debt, perpetuating fiscal injustice

Another hot summer in Tunisia gave way to teachers’ strikes in the fall, while winter follows suit with plans for a general strike on January 17. In this context, on December 10 the government adopted the Finance Law of 2019, a package of measures that perpetuate fiscal injustice, aiming to handle the country’s growing deficit by reaching into the pockets of those most impacted by economic crisis. Ahead of the 2019 elections, the new public budget was passed amidst a rejection rate of 30% in parliament, suscitating a new wave of popular and political rejection in the most recent test put to the government of prime minister Youssef Chahed.

Egypt : The Losers of Liberalisation

In recent years, Egyptians have experienced a noticeable decline in their standard of living with the devaluation of the national currency and at the same time a substantial rise in the cost of goods and services. Something quite unusual in a country where over the past few decades changes have always been gradual. Egyptians interpret their difficulties as a consequence of the implementation of the “Economic reform” aimed at bringing the country out of the current crisis with a series of austerity measures decided by the IMF.

Palestine : “Good governance” to bury the Intifada

The second Intifada used a large network of parallel and informal financial assistance to provide material and logistical support to the Palestinian resistance. That is why Israel has imposed reforms on the Palestinian Authority that have played a decisive role in its control strategy. Presented as a step towards good governance and the fight against corruption, they contributed to the halt given to the Intifada after the death of Yasser Arafat.

Syria and Egypt: Surprising analogies

Despite the supposedly opposing political systems in place in Egypt and Syria since the 1970s, the two countries have developed similar economic reforms, particularly since the 1990s. In both cases, and beyond the differences, they allowed the elites to strengthen themselves, and the dictatorship to continue.