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Caretaker Prime Minister calls on Sfax businessmen to promote their region

Published the:  21/06/2011

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June 21, 2011 - TAP - Caretaker Prime Minister Béji Caïd Essebsi called on economic operators of the region of Sfax to invest more in the region and boost different economic sectors.
He reminded, during a meeting held on Tuesday with local businessmen and investors, that priority of the Interim Government is to take needed interest in inland areas which were marginalised in the recent years.
The improvement of the situation in Libya, he said, would open broader prospects for the region which is called to make the most of them since the city of Sfax is considered as the second crossing point to Libya after Ras Jedir (Governorate of Medenine).
The Prime Minister presented the main axes of the economic revival programme decided by the Government for a five-year period and requiring funds estimated a 125 billion dollars, 25 billion of which to be mobilised through external borrowing as part of negotiations with the G8.
He cautioned against sit-ins and strikes, adding that these protests hamper circuits of the national economy and contribute to reducing growth which will not exceed 0.5% in 2011, according to the latest estimates.
He added that the State is facing heavy pressure in employment given the number of unemployed which is estimated now at 700 thousand, including 170 thousand university graduates.
He said he was optimistic about the economic future of Tunisia given the expected effects of the Tunisia Investment Forum which was attended by 1 200 investors including 500 foreign ones.
He announced the launch of a programme for the benefit of the city of Metlaoui which was the scene of deadly clashes resulting from tribal rivalries last June.
According to Mr. Caid Essebsi, the Revolution does not necessarily mean democracy which is a practice "that we should establish progressively together."
He noted that the Interim Government moves ahead "with steady steps," even if it appears "slow" for some, to overcome shortcomings of the past.
He said that Tunisia has conditions of success for the establishment of a democratic system that will prove to the rest of the world that Islam and democracy are not antithetical.
Among these conditions of success, Mr. Essebsi pointed to the State's reliance on generalisation of education and women's liberalisation which constitutes an "irreversible process" in addition to the moderation that marks the Tunisian people, the expansion of the already large middle class and an army that do not seek to govern.
He also called to show patriotism and step up investments in regions, an action that represents the only way to absorb unemployment and guarantee prosperity.
Chairman of the Sfax Regional Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts Abdellatif Zayani recommended implementing the Sfax light rail (metro) project, creating a free-trade zone and developing infrastructure by enlarging the motorway network in such a manner as to link the governorate to western regions and the Libyan capital Tripoli.
He said that inhabitants of the region are seeking to enhance the influence of the governorate as a development pole.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the opening of the Sfax International Fair (June 21-July 5, 2011).