The National Constituent Assembly (NCA) approved five bilateral agreements between Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Luxembourg, and Libya during its plenary session on Tuesday, January 8.
The two agreements with Saudi Arabia and the one with Vietnam seek to remove the burden of double taxation, which companies and individuals doing business between Tunisia and the two countries in question face. Furthermore, they target tax evasion by those who attempt to hide income in offshore accounts.
Ending double taxation may spur commercial exchanges between Tunisia and both Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
“[It] would encourage many investors from Saudi Arabia, and particularly from Vietnam, to invest their capital in Tunisia by establishing companies for instance,” said Tarak Bouaziz, a member of the NCA’s Finance, Planning, and Development Committee.
The fourth bilateral agreement with Luxembourg aims to increase the social security coverage of Tunisians living abroad as well as provide social benefits to expatriate students and vocational trainees of both nationalities residing in the two countries.
The NCA approved a loan from Libya, worth $100 million, that was agreed upon in May 2012 with the goal of financing priority development projects. In this arrangement, Tunisia has a five-year grace period before it will have to pay back the loan over 15 years with no interest to be charged.
Some NCA members are skeptical of the benefits that such a loan can bring to Tunisia.
“Tunisia should… not be satisfied with some donations from Libya, which will make it more dependent,” said Bouaziz.
He added that there are other concrete steps that Libya can take to help its western neighbor.
“Instead of giving us loans and donations, Libya may aid us by giving unemployed, young Tunisians more opportunites to work there or allowing Tunisia – instead of Egypt – to build the infrastructure in Libya,” stated Bouaziz.
In addition to the approval of these five bilateral agreements, the NCA adopted a draft law that finalized all expenditures within the 2009 state budget and added an article that allows for the prosecution of any official suspected of mismanaging resources in that year’s budget.