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Political crisis, lack of consensus hampered partial cabinet reshuffle and filling of Interior Ministry portfolio (PM)

Published the:  29/07/2018

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(TAP) - Premier Youssef Chahed said he shoulders his responsibility in picking Hichem Fourati, the new Interior Minister, adding that "the political crisis and the lack of consensus hampered a partial cabinet reshuffle and the filling of the Interior Ministry portfolio." This vacancy could not continue, he emphasised.

Chahed Saturday told deputies at a plenary session that the Interior Ministry must not be affected by divisions and keep away from political wrangling. This and his integrity, competence and close ties to the security institution account for Hichem Fourati's nomination, Chahed underscored.

The new minister, who is taking over from Lotfi Brahem with 148 votes for and 13 against, "will uphold the neutrality of the ministry according to a clear roadmap."

Tunisia "needs the unity of all without exception" and needs "to make the national interest prevail" for "battles can only be won through unbreakable unity," the Prime Minister highlighted.

Chahed said, in this vein, he is willing to work with "all well-meaning people."

Reacting to deputies' remarks following his opening address, the Prime Minister said his government "did not promise a deep change in the economic situation in a short timeframe." Economic indicators will improve in 2020, while the target in 2019 will be to curb the budget deficit and attain a 3.9% growth rate.

"Painful measures" were taken to achieve these objectives. The government is still committed to its 5% growth rate and 3% budget deficit targets in 2020.

Economic indicators need time to improve and to be perceived by citizens in their daily life, the Premier underscored, underlining the need to avoid defeatist discourses.

Upcoming challenges essentially include the implementation of the agreement on social negotiations with the Tunisian General Labour Union before September 15, borrowing from the international financial market, drafting the finance bill for 2019, reducing taxes and getting ready for an IMF review as a delegation will visit Tunisia on August 15 ahead of the disbursement of a fourth loan tranche in October.

Besides, Youssef Chahed announced the holding on September 18 of an international conference similar to Tunisia2020 (November 29-30, 2016) "to translate public-private partnership into reality." Lenders as well as local and international investors will be presented with a package of joint projects.

The Prime Minister also focused on a number of issues, including social funds overhaul, assistance to poor families and the national board of Tunisian expatriates.

Commenting on the situation of 40 African illegal migrants on board a ship stranded in the Mediterranean three kilometers from Zarzis, Chahed said they were rescued by a ship off Malta and that Tunisia provided them with medical care.

"We will allow them entry into Tunisia on humanitarian grounds even though they are opposed to such an option," he further said