Tunisia Moves to Break Deadlock on Long-Stalled Economic Reforms

Tunisia’s government and the biggest trade union agreed Wednesday on subsidy reforms and restructuring state-owned companies, marking an apparent breakthrough on steps seen key to an economic revival.

The agreement, announced by the secretary-general of the UGTT union, Noureddine Tebboubi, addresses some of the concerns raised by the International Monetary Fund over the North African country’s economy. The birthplace of the Arab Spring uprisings is struggling with protests over unemployment and other economic ills that about a dozen successive governments have largely failed to address.

Read more: IMF Urges Tunisia to Lower Wage Bill, Limit Energy Subsidies

Under the deal, seven state-run enterprises will be restructured, including the troubled national carrier Tunisair and power and gas utility STEG. There were few further details on how those changes, and revisions of subsidies and taxes, will be implemented.

Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi hailed the agreement as “historic,” saying the state wouldn’t divest from any of the companies but “reform and support” them.

Tunisian officials are scheduled to discuss the country’s reform plans with the IMF in April.

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