Tunisia Minister Says No Plan to Curb Central Bank Independence

(Bloomberg) -- Tunisia’s government has no intention of altering the statutes of the nation’s central bank or tampering with its independence, according to Economy and Planning Minister Samir Saied.

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“What’s being said about reducing the prerogatives of the central bank is empty talk,” Saied told Bloomberg on Wednesday on the sidelines of a conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. “The independence of the central bank will remain respected as it is without any modifications.”

His remarks came after the deputy speaker of Tunisia’s parliament, Riadh Jaidane, told local broadcaster Shems FM on Tuesday that the independence of the central bank was among issues that would be covered in a package of draft bills planned by the government after it held recent talks with the assembly.

The speaker himself, Brahim Bouderbala, subsequently said the government hasn’t submitted any draft laws on any subject to parliament. In comments cited by the state-run TAP news agency, Bouderbala urged the media to obtain information on the assembly’s moves solely from his office.

Tunisia’s new parliament, voted in this year after its predecessor was suspended by President Kais Saied in July 2021, is due to discuss wide-reaching changes as it tries to revitalize an economy dogged by years of tepid growth.

Jaidane, who handles major reforms at the assembly, had said on Tuesday morning there was “consensus that we must review the regulatory laws of the central bank and the issue of independence which is very sensitive.”

“We aren’t against having a strong central bank that plays a role in the national economy and public finances, but there needs to be limits and under a perspective of a new phase that breaks with everything that has contributed to disrupting the Tunisian state,” he had said.

Tunisia is in talks with the International Monetary Fund to reach a final agreement on a $1.9 billion bailout. Minister Saied says authorities target a pact as soon as possible. A 2016 parliamentary vote to strengthen the independence of the central bank was instrumental to securing Tunisia a previous $2.9 billion arrangement.

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