- Title: Tunisian PM urges continued focus on economy after election
- Date: 29th August 2019
- Summary: TUNIS, TUNISIA (AUGUST 29, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) TUNISIAN PRIME MINISTER, YOUSSEF CHAHED, SAYING: "Of course, security still remains a strong issue because we are still under ISIS threats, we're still under difficult situation in Libya that impacts... you know, we have an almost 500 km border with Libya, so we are really careful about the situation in Libya. So, security is top priority but also boosting the economy for the next few months will be a strong issue because if we'd like Tunisia to jump to the club of strong democracy, now we have to work on the economic side."
- Embargoed: 12th September 2019 18:35
- Keywords: Tunisia Presidential Elections Presidential Candidate Prime Minister Youssef Chahed Tunisian Economy European Union Tourism Terrorism
- Location: TUNIS, TUNISIA
- City: TUNIS, TUNISIA
- Country: Tunisia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA002AU9VY9Z
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Tunisian presidential candidate and incumbent Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on Thursday (August 29) the country should press ahead with his government's focus on the economy and security if it is to "join the club of strong democracy."
Chahed, who is standing in next month's presidential election, told Reuters that the "difficult" reforms could cost him politically, but he said they had stopped the economy from collapsing and that things were improving.
Spending cuts and tax and fuel price increases have caused frustration among many Tunisians, prompting strikes and protests.
While Tunisia has emerged as the only relative success story of the "Arab spring" revolts that it triggered in 2011, analysts have said economic troubles and a string of jihadist attacks could blow its transition to democracy off course.
Nationally, unemployment has risen from 12% before the revolution to 15.2%, but in some cities it stands at about 30%, with poverty aggravated by poor public services.
Tunisia's post-revolutionary constitution splits power between the president and prime minister, giving the head of state control only over foreign and defence policy.
However, Chahed said that if elected in the September 15 vote, he would use his position as president to focus on security issues, bringing foreign investment and securing stronger European Union support due to Tunisia's place on the front line of the Mediterranean migration crisis.
He said the economy had been on the verge of collapse when his government took over in 2016, a year after jihadist attacks devastated the country's crucial tourism sector. While cutting the deficit, the government diverted more money towards security.
Tunisia had only 5.6 million tourist visits in 2016, but 9 million are expected this year and "we can target" 10 million next year, he said.
The fiscal deficit will be 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) next year, compared to about 3.9% now and 7.4% three years ago, while inflation would drop to about 5% by the end of next year from the high of 7.8% last year, he said.
(Production: Zoubeir Souissi, Seham Eloraby)
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