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Tunisia lawmakers approve 2015 budget which sees 3 percent growth - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The new president of the Tunisian Assembly Mohamed Ennaceur speaks during a plenary session on December 4, 2014 in Tunis. (AFP Photo/Fethi Belaid)

The new president of the Tunisian Assembly Mohamed Ennaceur speaks during a plenary session on December 4, 2014 in Tunis. (AFP Photo/Fethi Belaid)

Tunis, Reuters—Tunisia’s government sees economic growth accelerating to 3 percent in 2015 from an estimated 2.5 percent this year while the budget deficit is expected to narrow, according to a budget bill passed by parliament on Thursday.

The 29 billion dinar (15.69 billion US dollar) budget is 6 percent bigger than this year’s. It forecasts a budget deficit of 5 percent of gross domestic product next year, less than the 5.8 percent estimated for this year.

Development spending will rise to 5.8 billion dinars (3.14 billion dollars) from 5.3 billion dinars (2.87 billion dollars) in 2014.

The government, which will be replaced early next year after the north African country’s first full parliamentary elections in October, has said at least three more years of painful and politically difficult reforms are needed to revive growth following Tunisia’s 2011 revolution. These will include tax changes and subsidy cuts.

The main secular party Nidaa Tounes won the October election with 86 of the parliament’s 217 seats and will lead a new government to be formed early next year. Islamist party Ennahda took 69 seats and smaller parties the rest.

Tunisia agreed a two-year, 1.78 billion dollar loan program with the International Monetary Fund in July 2013 under which it must pursue economic reforms.

The country will remain heavily dependent on foreign financing next year as it recovers from instability that followed a 2011 revolt to oust autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

According to the budget, Tunisia must raise 7.4 billion dinars (4 billion dollars) of financing next year, of which 4.4 billion dinars (2.38 billion dollars) will come from foreign sources. Subsidies costs will be reduced by 16 percent to 3.7 billion dinar (2 billion dollars) in 2015.

The budget does not outline any increase in public sector wages, despite a threat by the powerful UGTT labour union to launch strikes if pay rises were not included.

The need to push through economic reforms may yet force Nidaa Tounes into coalition with Ennahda, which won elections to a temporary national assembly in 2011 after Ben Ali’s overthrow in the first of the Arab Spring revolts.

After three years in government and a political crisis that almost ended Tunisia’s transition, Nidaa Tounes—a party led by former Ben Ali officials—overtook its Islamist rival to emerge as the country’s leading political force.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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