News / Africa

Tunisia's Political Deadlock Fuels Economic Frustration

Political Deadlock in Tunisia Fuels Economic Frustrationi
X
February 16, 2013 8:01 PM
As the political deadlock in Tunisia continues following the murder of opposition figure Chokri Belaid, there is a growing feeling that little progress is being made in tackling the country’s urgent economic problems. Henry Ridgwell reports from Tunis.

Political Deadlock in Tunisia Fuels Economic Frustration

Henry Ridgwell
— As the political deadlock in Tunisia continues following the killing of opposition figure Chokri Belaid, there is growing frustration on the streets that little progress is being made in tackling the country’s urgent economic problems.

Tunisia’s revolution was sparked when a fruit seller set himself on fire - an extreme protest against being fined for setting his stall in an illegal place.

Two years later, the dictator is gone but at the market stalls in Tunis the hardship remains. Butcher Mustapha says these days his customers spend less than a dollar a day.

“People can no longer buy a big piece of meat,” he says. “Even chicken is now out of reach for many. It takes 3 or 4 days for me to sell the meat from one sheep,” he said.

Last year Tunisia’s GDP rebounded by 2.7 percent - but high inflation and unemployment weigh on the economy.

The Coficab factory in Tunisia (Henry Ridgwell/VOA)The Coficab factory in Tunisia (Henry Ridgwell/VOA)
x
The Coficab factory in Tunisia (Henry Ridgwell/VOA)
The Coficab factory in Tunisia (Henry Ridgwell/VOA)
The Coficab factory produces thousands of kilometers of electrical cable every day. Its General Manager Hichem Elloumi - who is also vice president of the Association of Employers - says economic problems have compounded.

“Security is not perfect. Also [there are] social problems in the companies. Also the crisis in the European Union was a big problem for us, as you know that the European Union is our first economical partner,” said Elloumi.

Over 80 percent of Tunisian exports go to the European Union and with economic output shrinking in many of the EU’s biggest economies at the end of 2012, the outlook remains tough.

From the street to the boardroom, many Tunisians complain that politicians spend too much time debating the future instead of tackling Tunisia’s urgent problems.

The assassination of Chokri Belaid has plunged Tunisia deeper into political crisis, says Fadhel Abdelkefi, chairman of the Tunis stock exchange.

“I hope that the politicians will find agreement soon,” he said. “Once that happens, the number of people in the Cabinet must be dramatically cut. And above all, the National Assembly must be given a deadline to say you have ‘x’ months, 2, 3, 4 or 5 months, to finish the constitution, and they must only work on that."

Government spokesperson Samir Dilou says not all the criticism is fair.

“This government has made an effort and realized some positive results,” Dilou said. “But it hasn’t succeeded in other challenges. But everybody is accountable for this. In all democracies, responsibility does not only rest with those who govern, but with all their partners - civil society, the opposition and the private sector.”

Tourism is vital to Tunisia’s economy. Visitor numbers dropped after the revolution but picked up last year.

The 14th century souk in Tunis is one of the city’s top attractions.

Lamp-seller Jamel Bengourbha has seen the impact of the recent troubles on his business.

“The image now in Europe is that Tunisia is a terrorist country. It’s made tourists avoid Tunisia. But we still have hope in the future, God willing,” he said.

Many Tunisians had hoped that the political upheaval of 2011 was part of history. Now they want the politicians to bring a swift end to this latest chapter of unrest.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
February 16, 2013 11:38 AM
The continued problems in less economically develop countries, like Tunisia and other like countries, needs to be addressed through the rationalization and protection of their internal producers. Help needs to be provided, by international economic orgs like the WB, to ensure each of these nations can in fact produce the basics, that people need, and ensure that the producers generate/employ local people; consideration needs to be given/planned for to ensure local producers can even meet the demand for some of the lower level industrial products, even it is is only at the assambly level. The other aspect is to help them develop their natural resources and ensure that there is an actual distribution of the earnings of resources, through and to the national economy, and stamp out corruption. Foreign resource exploiters need to be forced to train and employ local nationals; the massive numbers of foreign nationals working on many resource projects needs to be gradually reduced, and over time it should be avoided or outright outlawed. It may not be as an efficient economic model, "the globalization model" that has made so many billionares, but it will be cheaper/safer on the long run, than to fight global jihadists.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid