Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali stated yesterday that the budget will undergo more expenditure control as he submitted the drafts of the state budget and finance law for 2013 to Head of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) Mustapha Ben Jaafar, reported Tunisian Press Agency (TAP).
Jebali added that the government will impose austerity measures to reduce government subsidies, increase taxes that are targeted at high income individuals, and consequently focus public spending on natural resource management, rural development, infrastructure, and job creation, Mosaique FM reported.
The proposed austerity is characterized by “a reduction in the amount of subsidies directed to those who are not in need and do not really deserve to be supported financially by the state,” said Jebali.
Moez Belhaj Rhouma, an Ennahdha party member of the NCA and the first assistant rapporteur in the Finance, Planning, and Development Committee, stated to Tunisia Live, “It is only the poor social class that will be granted government support and not wealthy people.”
Belhaj Rhouma believes that it is unsustainable to continue funding blanket subsidies for gasoline and foodstuffs that do not target lower income individuals. He pointed to the sum of 6 billion dinars ($3.8 billion) that the government spent in 2012 for such subsidies, which he considers unprecedented. “The government is planning to reduce [this] expenditure to 5 billion dinars for the following year in order to compensate for what has been spent in 2012,” said Belhaj Rhouma.
The estimated state budget for 2013 is just under 27 billion dinars, reported TAP.
Next year’s state budget will be dedicated in particular to opening more job opportunities. “Creating jobs is the most crucial element [in the government agenda],” declared Jebali in a statement to the press.
Selim Besbes, the deputy finance minister, said last week to a press conference, “The state will recruit about 23 thousand new employees in the public functions during the coming year.”
The Finance, Planning, and Development Committee will study the drafts of the state budget and finance law for 2013 tomorrow before submitting them to the next plenary session of the NCA.