Najla Bouden has no more money and the bankers no longer have to finance her

27/01/2022 | 11:09, updated at 10:00

5 min

The pensions of public pensioners have been reduced, the fictitious salaries of environmental companies have been abolished, teachers and law enforcers have been late in paying their salaries for the month of January, and employees of some state-run companies were paid only half.

Has the time come to tell the truth to the people? Business News has been repeating this for several months, sooner or later Najla Bouden is forced to admit that her government no longer has any room for maneuver and must adhere to a drastic austerity policy. It must apply the IMF’s recommendations to the letter and convince its president that he can no longer govern alone by rejecting everyone. Not long ago, he mocked international rating agencies like Ommek Sannafa and called the most ingenious businessmen thieves. There is no more money in the coffers at the end of January, and Kaïs Saïed must revise his priorities by putting the economy at the forefront.

Currently, Kais Saïed’s priorities are to find out whether the day of the revolution is January 14 or December 17, and a presumed national consultation to find out whether the Tunisian wants a presidential or parliamentary government. The reality is much more bitter, as the Tunisian’s top priority is without a doubt to see his salary paid on time and in full.

Two months ago, railway workers had to observe a wildcat strike after a slight delay in the payment of their wages. It was only the beginning because several other public companies showed the same delay.

To meet these monthly deadlines, the government had to play System D, as any bad leader would do. He took out bank loans and paid salaries with the money earmarked for financing certain projects.

Its policy based on budget tips is now complete. Najla Bouden is overtaken by reality.

A barrel of oil is now trading at $ 89, while the state budget was $ 75.

Banks are no longer willing to lend money to the state. Unheard of in Tunisia, one of the biggest bankers on the spot, Ahmed El Karm, posted a Facebook post yesterday condemning the great pressure that his peers and himself are under to finance the state budget.

In its action plan, the government relied heavily on a boost from the IMF, but the latter demanded negotiations with all the country’s economic actors. Specifically, however, Najla Bouden and Kaïs Saïed do not speak to anyone. Admittedly, there was this attempt to negotiate with UGTT, but that is only window dressing. In fact, the president is still in his ivory tower, he is still obsessed with his Soviet plans, and he is still convinced that it is enough to give to the poor what he confiscates from the rich to restore the country.

The President of the Republic is really in this state of mind, and international observers (starting with the IMF) know it. He angrily called French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday to get his support and ask him not to believe the lunatics the media and social networks convey.

Except that here the IMF, Macron and the rating agencies do not get information on social networks as he thinks. They know the reality on Tunisian soil and know exactly what is happening in the country.

Unlike Kaïs Saïed, they are in direct and permanent contact with the real players in the country, namely businessmen, media people, bankers, economists, trade unionists, NGOs and political party leaders. It is all these beautiful people, rejected by Kaïs Saïed and Najla Bouden, who inform the international partners about the Tunisian reality.

What to do now that the IMF and the Tunisian bankers do not seem to want to help this putsch power disconnected from its own territory?

According to information gathered from senior officials, the government will find it difficult to meet its January commitments, but it will still succeed. The mystery, however, remains total in the month of February. There is no solution on the horizon, other than using the central bank’s printing press, an option which the latter categorically rejects.

Completely unaware of the seriousness of the situation, Kaïs Saïed continues his multi-week talk, in which the economy is often absent. For him, the solution to the crisis has all been found with his decree on criminal reconciliation, which aims to summon and pay all the “corrupt” on the list of Abdelfattah Amor and the reports of the National Anti-Corruption Authority.

Najla Bouden knows very well that what the President says does not make sense. Up the wall, she has no choice but to tell the people that only severe austerity can save them or to throw in the towel.

On this subject, rumors of his resignation are becoming more and more insistent, and we are already talking about his successor Malek Zahi, the current Minister of Social Affairs.

Whether she confesses to the people, or whether she resigns by sending the hot potato to Mr Zahi, it comes down to the same thing, the super-salty bill must sooner or later be presented to the Tunisian people.

Raouf Ben Hedi

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