Interruption of the fuel supply: what happens.

In recent weeks, citizens have noticed a disruption in the fuel supply. Some have explained this phenomenon with the prosperity of certain coastal areas of the country and the summer holidays. However, the situation has only gotten worse since then, despite the government’s attempts to play down the matter. So what happens?

In fact, several citizens have been complaining for some time, especially on social networks, about the lack of fuel in different parts of the country. Something denied on August 6, 2022 by the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, claiming that supply operations continued as normal and that the various petroleum products were available at filling stations throughout the territory.

But over the past week the situation has worsened. The vice president of the National Trade Union Chamber of Service Station Managers and Owners, Ali Ben Yahia, confirmed that there is an obvious shortage of supplies due to a drop in imports by the government. For example, only three or four of the forty kiosks in Sousse served fuel the day before, he said in response to a question from the host.

Mr. Ben Yahia talks about a drop in supply of about 90% and bluntly claims that gas stations are at risk of filing for bankruptcy due to the drop in activity on the one hand and the drop in margin receiver on the other.

On the government and distributor side, we condemn a consumption frenzy. For them, if every Tunisian maintains his spending habits or is content to buy just what he needs, the problem would not arise!

Moreover, the government and the various ministries miss no opportunity to call for rationalization of consumption and avoid the consumption frenzy which, according to them, is the direct cause of the supply cut.

An argument that often does not hold water: because if the necessary quantities were available, there would have been no reason for madness. Also, to take the example of fuel, there is generally a shortage of supply and overconsumption only during strike alerts. Which is definitely not the current case: unheard of for decades.

So how can this disruption be explained? At the beginning of July last year, Business News questioned whether the government had prepared for the usual increase in summer consumption, given the influx of tourists and Tunisians living abroad. Given the current situation, it does not appear.

It must be said that in Tunisia, and since we have still not reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the state budget remains very tight. The government is thus working to rationalize all its expenditures, especially compensation, to better control prices, especially of administered products.

But the state’s priority is to secure food and, of course, salaries for civil servants. To this end, the government has made intensive use of domestic borrowing, as it has not raised funds abroad, except for a few loans and help to deal with rising food prices.

Moreover, the Minister of Industry, Energy and Mines, Neila Nouira Gongi, has admitted this. According to her, the import of grain and especially the import of wheat was prioritized after the war in Ukraine in terms of compensation, and took the opportunity to announce a new and imminent increase in fuel prices. The increase, scheduled for late July/early August 2022, has been delayed so as not to spoil Tunisians’ joy at the referendum, informed sources told Business News.

In fact, the 2022 Finance Act was built on the assumption that the average price per barrel will not exceed 75 dollars per barrel Brent. But today the average price reached 108 dollars per barrel Brent.

Knowing that an extra dollar in the price of the barrel represents 140 million dinars (MD) in additional expenses for the Tunisian state, while for the fall of the dinar, every 10 millimeters less compared to the dollar is reflected by 40 million dinars (MD) . Taking this new price into account, it will be necessary to pay 8 billion dinars in compensation in 2022, while the forecasts were 2.9 billion dinars (needs that have almost tripled).

According to Ms. Gongi, the financing needs for petroleum products (fuel, gas, electricity) were 5.2 billion dinars, today with the increase in prices, they have increased to 10.2 billion dinars.

And to explain that failure to rationalize compensation has huge costs for society and for investment projects in the country.

The rationalization of the compensation would allow us to build eight lines of the rapid rail network (RFR) in the major Tunisian cities or to buy more than 4,000 electric buses or to build and equip more than fifty hospitals. This shows the heavy emphasis on the community of compensation that does not go to the beneficiaries “, she said.

The lack of financial resources hampers the country’s supply of various foodstuffs and products. The need to reach an agreement with the IMF becomes urgent and paramount. Something that cannot be done without the commitment to structural reforms, a difficult issue that has been blocked for years. However, the future of the country depends on the solution of this problem in order to obtain the necessary funding for the functioning of the state.

Meanwhile NOUIRA

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