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PRESS RELEASE

World Bank Supports Social Protection Reforms in Tunisia

November 5, 2013

TUNIS, November 5, 2013 – A new project will support inclusive growth and poverty reduction efforts in Tunisia through the consolidation and better targeting of social protection programs. The US$4.7 million Tunisia Social Protection Reforms Support grant was signed today by the World Bank and the Government of Tunisia.

“While Tunisia has made strides in reducing poverty in past decades, it is clear that regional inequities and economic marginalization persists,” said Simon Gray, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb. “This project will help support Tunisia’s vision to improve the sustainability of its social protection system and direct public resources those most in need.”

While Tunisia spent close to 60 percent of its public budget on social spending as of 2013, social transfers are poorly targeted and its social security system is unsustainable, a situation which has worsened since the 2011 revolution.  Social transfers are dominated by large expenditures on food and fuel subsidies which largely accrue to richer householdsMoreover, cash transfer, labor and housing programs are fragmented and ill targeted to the neediest households.  Tunisia’s interim government has committed to improving these programs.

The Project, funded through the Transition Fund of the Deauville Partnership and administered by the World Bank Group, aims to help the Government of Tunisia create a national social protection system that is financially sustainable and better targeted to the most vulnerable.

Specifically, the project will support a participatory process for the government and civil society to analyze Tunisia’s subsidy and social security systems and develop an overall strategy for reform. It will further support the creation of a unified national database and a targeting system to consolidate and better target social protection programs currently administered by different government agencies.

The project will be managed by an inter-ministerial committee comprising the Prime Ministry, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, and the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation, with the involvement of civil society and in coordination with Tunisia’s social dialogue process.

The MENA Transition Fund, set up in 2012, is part of the Deauville Partnership, a joint commitment by G8 members, Turkey, Gulf and regional partners to support countries in the MENA region as they face the challenges of growing demands for more accountable governance, sustainable growth and greater employment opportunities.

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PRESS RELEASE NO:
2014/177/MNA