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Tunisia drafting bill to spur investment

Tunis (IINA) � Tunisia is drafting an economic emergency bill that will allow the government to bypass bureaucratic hurdles and speed up large-scale projects as it seeks to boost growth and create jobs, a senior official said.

Administrative delays and bureaucracy are one of the biggest obstacles for local and foreign investors in Tunisia, which has struggled economically since its 2011 uprising. Last June, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released the first tranche of a loan worth $320 million. The move comes amid increasing pressure from international lenders to reform the state sector and cut a bloated public sector wage bill. In two or three weeks the Parliament will start debates on a new ‘economic emergency’ bill aimed at reducing the obstacles on major projects, Ridha Saidi, an economic adviser to Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, told Reuters.

The bill will allow the government to take rapid decisions and short-circuit some bureaucratic procedures on big infrastructure projects and other new investments. The new law will give a strong message to all investors that Tunisia is committed to providing a better investment climate, Saidi said. Opposition parties have raised concerns that by reducing bureaucratic checks, the proposed bill could increase corruption, already a major problem in Tunisia’s economy. Saidi said anti-corruption controls would not be weakened. Chahed’s government has been pushing a raft of reforms aimed at ending years of stagnation and high unemployment. It expects the economy to grow between 2.5 percent and 3 percent this year. Previous attempts at reforms have been frustrated by political infighting and resistance from powerful trade unions and other interest groups.

The government also plans to sell a number of companies confiscated from former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s family in telecommunications, media and service sectors.

Source: International Islamic News Agency

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