Supreme Council of Food Sovereignty can end current policy of just managing emergencies in agriculture sector

Tunis: The establishment of a Supreme Council for Food Sovereignty will surely put an end to the current policy of managing the sector according to emergency situations, said Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries (UTAP) Vice-President in charge of information and public relations Naceur Amdouni. This recommendation, already tabled by the UTAP, will help Tunisia go beyond the stage of managing emergencies such as drought, fire, lack of production or disease, and move on to a more comprehensive approach that guarantees the sustainability of agricultural sectors, he said in an interview with TAP's TV studio. National sovereignty is closely tied to food, energy and water sovereignty, Amdouni pointed out, considering that the principle of food sovereignty expresses the choices made by the State based on the concept of Sovereignty. This approach, which has long been advocated by President of the Republic Kaïs Saïed and the UTAP, aims to achieve this goal, he added. "At our level, we have proposed the esta blishment of the Supreme Council for Food Sovereignty under the aegis of the Tunisian Institute for Strategic Studies (ITES) reporting to the Presidency of the Republic, with the participation of professionals and all the players and experts who can support this strategic approach," he indicated. This council must address fundamental issues rearding the future of Tunisian agriculture, the official underlined. He concluded by underscoring the importance of the concept of self-sufficiency, which necessarily requires the establishment of a viable sector based on the principle of sustainability, while avoiding sectors that are fragile and vulnerable to internal and external impacts, mainly by working on the ownership of production inputs. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Tunisia can collect more than 5.5 million quintals of grains this season (UTAP)

Tunis: Tunisia can collect 5.5 million quintals of grains this season, said Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries (UTAP) Vice-President in charge of Information Naceur Amdouni, adding that farmers need to maintain or increase the reference price for grain received by collection centres. In an interview with TAP's TV studio, Amdouni considered that the figures for the current season point to much more satisfactory results than those achieved last year, described as "catastrophic," as the country only collected 3.2 million quintals of grains. The grain farmers had received the quantities they had requested from the competent authorities for sowing as part of an approach adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture aimed at processing the quantities of grain used in sowing as required, the official underlined. Some areas used for grain production, notably in Kef, have been damaged as the season goes on due to climate change and rainfall deficits, explained Amdouni. Tunisia, which has adopted an approach base d on extending the areas sown as part of a grain self-sufficiency plan, could have produced up to 14 million quintals of grains if the climate conditions had allowed, he said. He pointed to the need to develop productivity, especially as the extension of grain-growing areas has been done at the expense of other crops. With regard to the reference price for receiving grains, and the grading scale, he explained that last year's prices had been around TND 130 per quintal, recalling that the Agriculture Ministry had also offered farmers a subsidy of TND 10. Amdouni voiced satisfaction at this measure, which should help farmers avoid losses, not forgetting the decision by the Agriculture Ministry to drop certain conditions imposed by the grading scale. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Budget balance shows surplus of TND 1.3 bn in Q1 2024 (FinMin)

Tunis: The budget balance recorded a surplus of around TND 1.3 billion during the first quarter (Q1) of 2024, down 8.22% compared to the surplus posted at the end of March 2023 (TND 1.4 billion). This is revealed in the document "Provisional Results of Budget Execution" published by the Ministry of Finance. Budget revenues went up by 12.8% to TND 12 billion in the first quarter, mainly driven by growth in tax revenues (+6.5% to TND 10.4 billion) and non-tax revenues (+20.8% to TND 1.1 billion). On the other hand, budget expenditure grew at a lower rate of 10.3%, from TND 9.2 billion in Q1 2023 to TND 10.2 billion at the end of March 2024. The increase in budgetary expenditure is mainly explained by the rise in salary expenditure by 2% to TND 5.3 billion, intervention expenditure by 22% to TND 2 billion and financing costs (debt interest) by 35.4% to TND 1.8 billion. On the other hand, the budget expenditure allocated to investment decreased by 8.3% and did not exceed TND 0.6 billion. Subsidy expenses acc ount for approximately 52% of total government expenses, while investment expenses account for only 6% of these expenses. Data released by the Ministry of Finance also posted an increase in treasury resources to TND 3.5 billion, compared to TND 0.170 billion a year earlier. As for subsidy expenditure, it went up by 11.3% from TND 1.2 billion to approximately TND 1.4 billion at the end of March 2024. The amount allocated to fuel subsidies represents 72% of the total subsidy budget in the first quarter of 2024. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Tunisian-German cooperation programme helps 80 SMEs improve profitability

Hammamet: Eighty small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) out of a total of 100 beneficiaries of the Tunisian-German cooperation programme "SME Business Training and Coaching Loop" have managed to improve their profitability and overcome the difficulties they encountered after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an initial assessment of the project, Minister of Industry, Energy and Mines, Fatma Chiboub Thabet, said Wednesday. Speaking on the sidelines of a certificate handover ceremony in Hammamet on Wednesday, the minister said that this nine-month programme had provided technical advice and support to 100 SMEs operating in the textile, clothing, agri-food, electricity and services sectors in various regions of the country. The project, which has taken into account the specific characteristics of each company, has helped to strengthen the skills of the beneficiary companies, which are run by young entrepreneurs. This has been done by introducing innovative management mechanisms and methods, as well as be tter human resources management to boost exports and digital marketing, she pointed out. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

ARP ratifies organic bill adopting amendments to Agreement establishing EBRD

Tunis: The Assembly of People's Representatives (ARP) ratified in plenary session Tuesday, with 115 votes in favour, 3 against and 7 abstentions, the organic bill adopting the amendments to the Agreement Establishing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). These amendments concern in particular the Bank's day-to-day operations, the conditions for the use of its capital and the potential beneficiaries of EBRD interventions. Among the changes is the extension of the geographical scope of the EBRD's operations to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the preamble to the draft law, these changes will not impose any financial burden on Tunisia. Instead, they will strengthen business relations with sub-Saharan African countries and further open up opportunities on the continent. Once amended, the text will "contribute to the fight against irregular migration by improving the socio-economic situation of these countries". Founded in 1990, the EBRD currently has 72 member countries. T unisia became a member of the EBRD in 2011, following the bank's decision to expand the geographical scope of its operations to include countries on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Average wage in Tunisia does not exceed 924 dinars (INS)

Tunis: The average wage in Tunisia does not exceed 924 dinars, almost twice the minimum industrial wage, estimated at 460 dinars, according to a survey carried out by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) on a sample of Tunisian public and private companies representing 16 economic sectors, randomly selected from the national business register. The survey, conducted by the Institute in 2022 and recently published, shows that the average wage in Tunisia ranges from 1,698 dinars for executives to 658 dinars for workers. The average wage in the public sector is estimated at 899 dinars, ranging from 1,628 dinars for executives to 612 dinars for workers. The survey shows that the finance and insurance sector offers the highest wages in Tunisia, with an average of 2,605 dinars, rising to 3,253 dinars for executives and falling to 1,112 dinars for workers. The media and communications sector ranks second in terms of wages, with an average wage of 1,908 dinars. The survey found that the education sector pay s the least, with an average wage of 792 dinars. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Kantaoui-Sousse: Nearly 250,000 tourists in hotel units until May 10, 2024

SOUSSE: Hotel and tourist accommodation units in El Kantaoui, Sousse recorded the influx of 248,860 customers from January 1 to May 10, 2024 against 251,662 during the same period of 2023, a drop of nearly 1.1%. This slight decrease was offset by an increase of nearly 12.6% in terms of the number of nights spent, reaching 909,930 nights, compared to only 808,377 nights during the same period last year, said Local Tourism Commissioner Taoufik Belkaid during a working session of the Regional Tourism Council held Tuesday in Sousse. Tunisian customers take the lead in the number of visitors visiting El Kantaoui, Sousse (109,864 Tunisian visitors), still recording a drop of nearly 9.3% compared to the past season. During the said period, the number of British tourists increased by approximately 84.2% (27,884 tourists), as did French tourists whose number rose to 19,687 visitors, an increase of approximately 6%, while that the number of Algerian tourists fell by 18%. Statistics from Enfidha-Hammamet internation al airport expect an influx of 7,818 flights during 2024, an increase of approximately 46%, with 1 million 400 thousand passengers on board, an estimated increase of around 68% compared to fiscal 2023. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Taskforce to monitor progress of 2024 tourism season set up at end of Cabinet meeting

Tunis: A taskforce, bringing together officials from ministries working on the success of the 2024 tourism season, has been formed, the Prime Ministry said on Tuesday. At the end of a small cabinet meeting held on Monday and Tuesday, at the Prime Ministry, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister, Ahmed Hachani and devoted to the examination of preparations ahead of the 2024 tourism season, Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts, Mohamed Moez Belhassine said that a toll-free number (08 100 333) has been created to receive complaints, adding that it is operational 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. A unit, which will be in charge of receiving complaints at or posted on social media, has also been created. During the cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister said that Tunisia is a safe tourist destination, affirming the recovery of the national tourism market after the COVID-19 pandemic. Referring to the remarkable evolution of tourism indicators compared to the reference year 2019, Hachani urged all stakeholders to ensure the success of the 2024 tourism season, while paying a close attention to alternative tourism. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Food Security in Tunisia: ARP examines US$ 300-million loan project

Tunis: The Assembly of People's Representatives (ARP) started on Tuesday examining a loan agreement worth US$ 300 million (TND 932 million) concluded between Tunisia and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to fund the Tunisia Emergency Food Security Response Project. The loan aims to provide the necessary funds to ensure grain supply, reads the final report of the ARP Finance and Budget Committee. This loan will be granted to the Grain Office to help achieve projects during the period 2024/2026 and will be reimbursed over 28 years, including an eight-year grace period with a 6.87% interest rate. Draft law No.40 of 2024 proposed by the Presidency of the Republic includes three components, namely providing urgent support to farmers (US$145 million) to ease the impact of drought on small farmers and for wheat supply (US$ 155 million). The World Bank (WB) had granted an initial loan of US$ 130 million through the IBRD to fund the Tunisia Emergency Food Security Response Project. Since the food security parent project was approved in June 2022, Tunisia's government has sought to improve the country's grain sector. Initiatives include measures to boost domestic production, reduce food waste, increase the cereals value chain added-value, and manage drought-related production risks. The project allowed to provide barley to 126,000 dairy farmers and certified climate-smart wheat seeds to 16,362 smallholder farmers and allowed to maintain continued supply of bread through the provision of 160,099 metric tons of soft wheat. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Slightly cloudy, temperatures slightly down

Tunis: The weather Tuesday is a bit cloudy in most regions, growing very cloudy in the afternoon over wester regions of the midland with local light rains. The wind is blowing north in the north and midland and east in the south, relatively strong near coasts and in the south with local sand storms, light to moderate elsewhere. The sea is very choppy to rough. Temperatures are slightly down with highs ranging between 22°C and 29°C in northern, eastern and height regions and 30°C and 35°C elsewhere, reaching 37°C in the far south. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse