Najla Bouden, the sweet woman…

Never has a government leader held as much power in his hands as Najla Bouden. In position at the Kasbah since October 11, 2021, Ms. Bouden has achieved nothing in thirteen months of training. The observation is obvious, the country is experiencing one shortage after another, the IMF loan is scheduled for quarter 2022 is still not completed, no communication worthy of the name with the press, no interview to report to people about her activities, Ms. Bouden wades, wades and wades.

On October 11, 2021, at the time of the deposition, Najla Bouden was on track to do well. With her good nature as a sweet grandmother, her eternal smile, her status as the first lady to hold such a position in the Arab world, the total trust in the President of the Republic and the absence of any checks and balances as there is no longer any assembly , the lady had to turn Tunisia into paradise and turn the page of a dark decade.

Thirteen months later, Tunisia is short of milk and medicine, having run out of fuel, wheat, flour, sugar, mineral water and various other essential foodstuffs. According to official figures, inflation is 9.2%, but it is easily felt around 20%. It was 6.3% a year earlier.

Instead of encouraging productivity and domestic enterprises, the choice has been to turn to donors for loans and begging. In December last year, Algeria granted a loan of 300 million dollars, which was totally deposited in the budget. Europe, for its part, has provided tens of millions of euros in budget support loans or to deal with the difficulties caused by the war in Ukraine. Twenty million in April, forty million in October.

At the IMF, 100% of the expected loan must finance the budget. Nothing for investments. The government is impatient to get this loan because it will enable it to get others from financial backers, governmental or private, and always to finance the budget.

In parallel with this policy of begging, the government has continued to put spokes in the wheels of the economic fabric. Let us go through the war against the hypothetical speculators who set the whole system of supply, storage and self-regulation of the market in motion. Last October, the government issued new measures to limit the import of certain products. The European Union reacted immediately to call for the suspension of these measures, which are contrary to the commitments signed by Tunisia and with common sense! Also in October, Economy Minister Samir Saïed shook up the car sector by declaring that imports of new vehicles should be limited.

This disastrous economic policy has consequences, and they are being felt. First, lack. There is all the time now. Not a month goes by without Tunisians running out of one or more products. Something new almost never experienced under Ben Ali or during the dark decade of the Islamists.

Another new thing is the crisis in the education sector. To date, about 750,000 students have still not joined the school. The reason ? A strike by part-time teachers demanding to be paid for their work. The ministry rejects their recruitment and offers them fixed-term contracts with a precarious status and salary.

Worse, only the poor class suffers from this. The wealthy classes, and even the middle class, are protected, their children go to private schools and are not exposed to this kind of danger.

Undoubtedly, future generations will remember the name of Kaïs Saïed, but also the name of Najla Bouden, as responsible for their indebtedness, for these hundreds of hours of lessons missing from their course, and for the gap that separates them from their well-educated or better educated countrymen.

The analysis of these various errors is not difficult. Najla Bouden listens to no one but her president. She doesn’t say anything either. As soon as she arrived in the Kasbah, she was informed of the situation and several offered her concrete solutions in order not to reach the state that Tunisia is fighting for today.

In order to solve the short-term and structural problems, there was a need for a clear road map and close cooperation in one direction with the country’s living forces, especially and above all the central bank, the two employers’ associations Utica and Conect and the labor market. association UGTT.

It was also necessary to debate with politicians, as well as economists. Nothing can be done without all these parts of society.

The head of government had to say what she intends to do.

But Najla Bouden chose another method of governance, contempt. Don’t trust her eternal smug smile, the lady listens to no one and looks down on everyone.

Leaders of political parties? She got almost none.

The media? Zero interviews. It does not even have a director of communications or a communications unit worthy of the name.

Employers? Apart from the salamalecs in front of the cameras, there is nothing concrete.

Unions ? It gratuitously provoked a conflict that lasted for months with its famous Circular 20, which forbade any negotiation with the unions without the prior approval of the Prime Minister.

Diplomacy? She does not know how to behave and fell into the first trap after this exchange of smiles with the president of Israel, who is theoretically Tunisia’s enemy.

The spokesman for his government? Incredibly stupid. Not only does he not have a cordial relationship with the press, but he allows himself to kick things when asked about the controversy over the smile with the Israeli president. He declares to have seen nothing and to have read nothing.

It is clear that the government does not even consult the media in the country.

The consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian war in relation to the supply of wheat and oil? There hasn’t even been a ministerial council on this issue and we still don’t know how to deal with it.

Najla Bouden doesn’t have a road map, doesn’t listen to anyone, doesn’t say anything about what she’s doing, she sails by sight, day by day. It seeks to solve immediate problems without anticipating future problems.

Even an SME would not survive with such a management method.

Kaïs Saïed bet everything on Najla Bouden, selling her as the woman of integrity who is able to bring new approaches, dear to her heart, to bring Tunisia out of its stupor.

His pet failed. The bad numbers are all on the rise: unemployment, debt and inflation. The good numbers are falling: investments, growth and commercial coverage ratio.

If the President of the Republic is primarily responsible for the situation, it is Najla Bouden who will take responsibility for the failure. She will be the fuse that Kaïs Saïed will strike after the parliamentary elections scheduled for 17 December.

Whether for the present generation or the future generation, the name of Mrs. Bouden will be synonymous with failure. Also the failure of the first woman to hold the post of head of government.

Raouf Ben Hedi

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