The World Bank was able to respond quickly to changing circumstances, and provide key budgetary support to the interim governments following the January 14, 2011 revolution. This included strengthened dialogue with the Constituent Assembly and interim Governments to determine priorities and how the Bank can best support them. The strategic direction that the previous government had embarked upon worked toward a sustained economic recovery which would lead to increased employment creation. While the environment in Tunisia remains fluid, the World Bank has had some successes post-revolution:
The 2011 Governance and Opportunity (GO DPL) has led to increased public access to economic and social data, and on public finances: the Ministry of Finance now publishes monthly data on budget execution; the annual reports of the Supreme Audit Institution have been published online; the Statistical Office has introduced on-line access to key survey databases (Household Budget Survey 2005; Labor Force Survey 2010; a sample of the Population Census 2004).
Under a Freedom of Association Law passed in 2011, non-governmental organizations, think-tanks and other groups can now easily assemble, and there has been a blossoming of such actors across the country. The use of the internet has expanded, connecting Tunisians and opening up Tunisia to the world. As of September 2011 there was a 33% increase in the number of websites “.tn”, compared to end-2010. A new regulatory framework for the National Employment Fund (around 0.4% of GDP) has been put in place and the program is now under the management of the Ministry of Employment. To promote citizens voices, the DPL reform program included developing a community scorecard mechanism to evaluate employment, health and education services. This mechanism enables regular monitoring and evaluation by third parties of selected social programs and public services that would allow citizens to rate performance.
The 2012 Governance, Opportunity and Jobs DPL (GOJ DPL), supported the government in: Launching a participatory review of business formalities to streamline procedures, increase transparency, and reduce arbitrary and discretionary behavior; Making landing stations of international telecommunications cables open to more operators in an effort to promote the competitiveness of the economy and liberalize the sector; Restructuring the financial sector and strengthening its stability and commissioning strategic and financial audits of three public banks.
Moreover, stricter prudential regulations for the banking sector, from micro-finance to large state-owned banks, were announced by the Central Bank. An autonomous auditing, evaluation and accreditation system for the quality of health services was established using international standards. In the education sector, the National Authority for the Evaluation, Quality Assurance and Accreditation of higher education was established.
The Tunisian government issued a decision to publish key information on public finances, with citizens’ budget and an online open budget platform was created to further promote the transparency of public finances. A participatory regulatory simplification process in the Ministry of Finance was established which reduced red tape by simplifying procedures by 86 percent and eliminated 7% of customs & tax procedures. A broader regulatory simplification reform has been launched in 9 ministries.
The results of the community scorecards were published on a national scorecard (drawing on evaluations from 9,000 citizens). The government launched safety net reform to establish a new registry and means-tested targeting to better reach the most vulnerable populations.