Tunisia Government Given Special Powers to Combat Coronavirus Crisis
Tunisia's parliament on Saturday ceded some powers to the North African country's government for two months to help it handle the coronavirus crisis and the expected economic fallout.
The decision, backed by all political parties, will allow Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh's government to issue decrees, strike purchasing agreements and seek finance without consulting parliament.
Tunisia has 495 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including 18 deaths, and has imposed a national lockdown until April 19 to slow its spread.
Fakhfakh, who was confirmed as prime minister on Feb. 28 after months of wrangling between rival parties to form a government, said the move was a "necessary weapon" to allow fast decisions to tackle the crisis.
His government has announced a financial package that includes aid for the poor as well as tax and loan repayment holidays. Fakhfakh has said the government may impose exceptional taxes on companies to cover this if the government cannot find the money elsewhere.
Tunisia has struggled to develop its economy over the past decade, nine years since its 2011 revolution.
An International Monetary Fund loan program expires this month and Finance minister Nizar Yaich told Reuters in March the government had started negotiations with IMF on a new agreement.