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Tunisia Adopts 2011 Budget Bill

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

07 December 2010


Tunisia’s Chamber of Deputies has adopted the country’s 2011 budget bill, designed to reduce public debt and containing a number of key fiscal measures.

During the course of the meeting, the various strategies and programmes proposed by the finance ministry to implement the financial reforms that had been agreed within the framework of the 2009-2014 presidential programme were discussed. The five-year presidential programme aims to improve the current financial and fiscal policy in order to improve efficiency, to restructure and strengthen the banking sector, and to put in place a monetary policy designed to promote investment and to improve the competitiveness of businesses in Tunisia.

Parliamentarians also urged the government to introduce benefits and incentives intended to facilitate the setting up of Tunisian banks abroad, notably in African countries, particularly given that Tunisia has taken important strides recently towards the full liberalization of the Tunisian dinar.

Given the current economic climate and in view of the government’s fixed development objectives, the importance of adopting a flexible fiscal policy was underlined: a fiscal policy which would take into consideration the specificities of targeted sectors, such as new information and communication technologies, in order to attract more direct foreign investment (investissements directs étrangers – IDE) and to promote employment and exportation.

Consequently, it was suggested during the meeting that the existing fiscal regime be revised in order to reduce the fiscal burden accordingly, to realize fiscal equity, and to increase the rate of restitution of value-added tax (VAT) credits.

Discussions also focussed on the key role of the insurance sector in mobilizing savings, in boosting the development process and in boosting the stock market. Here, various possible measures and reforms were discussed which could be implemented by the state in a bid to increase the turnover of this sector.

Emphasizing the fact that the state budget bill for the coming year reflects a willingness to both guarantee the future financing of priority development projects and to preserve financial balance, Tunisian Finance Minister Mohamed Ridha Chalghoum stated that the government’s aim is to strengthen the contribution of the budget in supporting economic activity.

Alluding to the significant efforts made to modernize the country’s tax system and to adopt modern communications technologies, Finance Minister Chalghoum noted that so far this year over 5,500 businesses in Tunisia have registered to use the new system of remote tax returns.

Chalghoum reiterated the government’s commitment to only granting tax incentives to priority sectors, including information and communication technologies, and ecological and innovative projects, in accordance with the country’s code for investment incentives.

Referring to the presidential decision to merge the STB (Société Tunisienne de Banque) and BH (la Banque de l'Habitat) public banks, in response to large company financing needs and in a bid to unlock new opportunities for exports and investments abroad, Chalghoum indicated that the profound reforms within the banking sector have served to strengthen the financial foundations of the country’s banks and to reduce classified debt.

As regards the financing of small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in Tunisia, Chalghoum pointed out that the newly established financial holding company “Moubadara”, specializing in financing SMEs, will serve to facilitate both SME financing and the creation of new SMEs via a single point of contact.

TAGS: tax | investment | business | holding company | value added tax (VAT) | fiscal policy | banking | insurance | budget | Tunisia | tax breaks | tax reform

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