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Tunisia’s Businessmen at Loggerheads with Government

Tunisia’s Businessmen at Loggerheads with Government

Monday, 30 March, 2020 - 09:45
Shopkeepers wait for customers in front of a souvenir shop, in Hammamet, Tunisia, September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
Tunis - Mongi Saidani

The Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA) has rejected plans by Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh’s government to take unilateral action against huge economic institutions refraining from backing the state’s efforts to overcome the country’s economic and social paralysis.

The president of the Confederation, Samir Majul, expressed rejection to any attempt to hold the businessmen solely responsible for the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 outbreak.

He defended the economic institutions and drew red lines, saying the country’s businessmen will not become scapegoats.

The private sector provides jobs for more than two million individuals, contributes to investment, development and exports, and guarantees self-sufficiency in food, medicines, health and other sectors, which are substantial to preserving political, social and security stability.

Tunisian political analyst Gamal Arfaoui told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the government could impose more taxes on businessmen in an attempt to boost the state treasury.

As part of efforts to improve the country’s economic situation amid the lockdown imposed by the authorities, Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) spokesman Sami al-Taheri has demanded extending the opening hours of wholesale markets and allow traders to sell their products at weekly-held markets.

The statements of both the UGTT and UTICA was seen by observers as a unity against a possible government failure to limit the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The government has allocated TND2,5 billion (USD833 million) for the health sector and to support the economic institutions that have been the most damaged by the lockdown, in addition to helping disadvantaged people.

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