A source from Tunisia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that development programs in the country’s interior will be a priority as the Tunisian government spends money freed up by $100 million in US aid – still pending congressional approval. The cash transfer was announced only yesterday in a press release by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and would provide Tunisia with “short-term fiscal relief” from its debt obligations to the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
“The country’s first priority is the interior region, especially in terms of employment. Every other region has its own priorities, but as a country the interior comes first,” said the ministry official.
Hafedh Abdennebi, a professor at IHEC (University of Carthage) and expert in economic development, confirmed the earlier statement by the ministry source. He added that infrastructure projects would bear the focus of any development effort of the government in the interior. “There’s enormous social pressure [in the interior] so the government is obliged to react, especially in regions like Sidi Bouzid and Gafsa,” explained Abdennebi.
For Tunisia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Clinton’s announcement can possibly work as a fillip for other states to follow the lead of the United States and increase their aid to Tunisia. “We hope that with a country as big as the United States helping us, others will follow (…) This is the moment for Tunisia because we’ve become so well-known and other countries in Europe and South America should follow the United States’ lead,” stated the ministry source.