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Tunisia, Ready to Move Forward

November 30, 2016

By Hafez Ghanem

This article was first published in La Presse Tunisie.

The commitment of the World Bank Group to support Tunisia in its economic transition is so comprehensive that the Bank would not, for any reason, miss the international investment conference, known as « Tunisia 2020 », being held in Tunis from 29 to 30 November 2016.

Such an event is a major signal to the international community, and particularly to foreign investors, that Tunisia is once again fully open for business.

This international conference will provide an opportunity to outline the reform program of the Tunisian Government as well as to demonstrate to foreign investors that they can invest in a stable, transparent and secure environment where the law applies equally to all.

The key to Tunisia’s economic recovery lies in the development and expansion of the private sector. Tunisia must pull out all the stops to attract investors, both national and foreign. With jobs sorely lacking in Tunisia, particularly skilled and stable jobs, and as jobs are created by investments, all necessary measures should be taken to improve the investment and business climate.

The Tunisian economy has stalled since 2010. Against this background, and despite the efforts made, the social situation can hardly improve. For this reason, the decision of the Tunisian authorities to tackle the issue of the economy with a view to creating favorable investment conditions must be applauded.

Important decisions that are of interest, first and foremost, to private investors have been taken in advance of this conference. I will refer here to five of them: the new investment code; the law on public-private partnerships; the banking law; the competition law; and, finally, the bankruptcy law. We also take note of the improved efficiency of the port of Radès where vessels are no longer being held at bay.

The conference will focus not only on mobilizing increased financing, but on attracting high quality financing. In this regard, the recent adoption by the Assembly of Representatives of the People of the law on public-private partnerships (PPP) is most timely. This conference is, therefore, a good opportunity to lay the foundations for certain PPPs which offer all a  ‘win-win’ scenario.

The World Bank Group aspires to help Tunisia to achieve its development objectives, set up an open and competitive economy and, above all, ensure shared prosperity in which all Tunisians will have the opportunity to reap the fruits of the economic transition. The World Bank aims to provide Tunisia with all the support it requires, not only from a financial standpoint, but also from a technical and analytical point of view.

The international community has, time and again, committed its full support to the Government and people of Tunisia. The international community must now make good on these promises in order to promote economic and social development, and ensure that the political transition is accompanied by a real economic transition leading to inclusive growth.