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

Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurd President Urges World Community to Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid