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Speeches & Transcripts

Speech by World Bank Vice President, Hafez Ghanem at Tunisia International Investment Conference "Tunisia 2020"

November 29, 2016

Hafez Ghanem Tunisia

As Prepared for Delivery

His Excellency, the President of the Republic

His Excellency, the Head of Government

Honorable Ministers

Distinguished Guests

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On behalf of President Jim Kim and my team of colleagues from the World Bank Group, let me say first of all what an honor and immense pleasure it is to participate in this International Conference in support of Tunisia’s economic, social and sustainable development. On his second visit to Tunisia last March, President Kim reaffirmed his strong support for Tunisia in its historic transition toward a more stable post-revolutionary era.

The partnership between the World Bank Group and Tunisia is not new. At the start of the 1960s, our first financing initiative in Tunisia was in the education sector – a sector to which we remain fully committed today so that young Tunisian men and women may benefit fully from the economic opportunities in today’s world. Our commitment is as strong today as it was yesterday, and we remain fully engaged with the Tunisian people in the task of implementing the country’s new social contract based on the promotion of opportunities for all; and here I think in particular of youth and women as well as of the country’s disadvantaged regions.

Since 2011, Tunisia has shown the capacity to overcome immense obstacles in its mission to ensure a democratic transition that has been recognized by the entire world as well as in its drive to develop economic resilience. The new 2016-2020 Development Plan is consistent with the efforts underway to ensure the success of the second transition facing the country, namely the economic transition. The World Bank Group subscribes fully to the objectives set by the Development Plan and supports the approaches it outlines for promoting growth that is strong, durable, equitable, and sustainable. Of course, it will be necessary to implement difficult reforms in order to realize these objectives. The conference that opens today provides further evidence, if any were needed, of the resolve of the Tunisian authorities to accelerate the modernization of the administration and major public enterprises, and to enhance the attractiveness of Tunisia to private operators.

Without dwelling on the details of the various reforms outlined in the Development Plan or on the World Bank Group’s support for these reforms, I would, nevertheless, like to mention a number of major legislative changes that are of interest, first and foremost, to the private investors gathered here at this conference. I will mention five such changes:

1.     The new investment code;

2.     The law on public-private partnerships;

3.     The banking law;

4.     The competition law;

5.     And finally, the bankruptcy law.  

Taken together, this new legislative framework should make it easier to attract the funds necessary to develop large infrastructure projects, particularly through public-private partnerships, and to encourage private investors to take an interest in the sectors and industries that show significant potential in each of the country’s regions.

The new 2016-2020 partnership strategy between Tunisia and the World Bank Group was formulated on the basis of the Development Plan. This strategy was approved unanimously by our Administrative Council in May 2016 and contains financial envelopes that are as large as US$5 billion for the 2016-2020 period. Our strategy revolves around three principal axes: (i) support for economic revitalization, with the private sector as the engine of growth for job creation; (ii) investments in interior regions of the country; and (iii) innovative programs to empower young Tunisian men and women to participate fully as change agents in the development of this new Tunisia.

On behalf of the World Bank Group, we reiterate our sincere congratulations to Tunisia for the excellent organization of this conference. With hundreds if not thousands of participants, and with representation from dozens of countries, we can look forward to rich exchanges, including fruitful B2B meetings. The strong turnout is a testament to the fact that Tunisia is a friend of the world, a country endowed with rich human capital, a young democracy determined to keep its place as a preferred investment destination in the Mediterranean Basin.

The World Bank reiterates its commitment to continue supporting Tunisia’s economic transition so that the country can realize its full economic potential.

I extend best wishes for the success of this TUNISIA 2020 Conference and thank you for your attention.