The State budget for 2013 was set at 26.792 billion dinars, up 4.9% compared to the updated estimates of the supplementary budget for the year 2012, Interim Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said Thursday at a plenary session devoted to the discussion of the State budget for 2013.
This increase aims, according to him, to further strengthen the country’s capacity particularly in regional development. It also seeks to reduce regional disparities and fight against unemployment through the creation of new job positions and stimulus programs for the consolidation of employment and vocational training.
Indeed, the budget law for 2013 has set spending (exclusive of subsidy expenditures) at 1,500.3 million Tunisian dinars (MTD), against 1,331.9 MD under the supplementary budget law of 2012, thus posting an increase of 12.6%. An amount of 390 MTD will go to needy families against 354 MTD in 2012. In this context, it was decided to grant 235,000 poorest families a total amount of 293 MTD.
Moreover, 350 MTD will be devoted to local communities, compared with 436 MTD under the complementary budget of 2012. University scholarships and loans will increase by 8.2% from 124.9 MTD in 2012 to 133.1 MTD in 2013.
With regard to spending on subsidies, they were set at 4,200 MTD in 2013, thereby representing 15.7% of the budget. 2,520 MTD will be allocated for fuel subsidies, 1,350 MTD for commodities and 330 MTD for public transport.
Regarding the development expenditures for the year 2013, they were set at 5,500 MTD against 6,400 MTD in 2012. 63% of these expenditures will be devoted to development, while 28% will go to the social sector and 9% to the administration.
Proposed expenditures for agriculture and fishing are estimated at 671.8 MTD, while those devoted to environment have been set at 157.140 MTD and those allocated for transportation were at around 18.940 MD. Moreover, 1,200 MTD will be devoted to regional development, 72.677 MTD to tourism and 580 MTD to employment and vocational training.
Hamadi Jebali also said it is planned to increase the country's own resources to bring the deficit to 5.9% of GDP and limit public debt to only 46.8% of GDP. Added to this is the reduction of the current account deficit to 6.8% of GDP, and this through the proper management of external debt and pressure on prices.
However, he noted that, due to insufficient own resources of the State which could reach, according to him, 19,975 MTD, it was decided to undertake reforms to guarantee tax justice and control the tax burden. It is also necessary to create wealth and improve the profitability of the national economy, he added.
And to control the overall balances, the prime minister said that the government aims in 2013 to limit loan balances to around 6,817 MTD, and this through the financing of the budget deficit, including privatization and donations which are estimated at 3,957 MTD and the repayment of principal of the public debt estimated at 2,860 MTD.
With regard to the year 2012, Hamadi Jebali said Tunisia was able to achieve a positive growth rate of 3.4% and could achieve 3.5% at the end of this year, thanks to the improvement of the added value of certain sectors such as agriculture, market services, hospitality and fuels.
For the year 2013, the expected growth rate is put at 4.5%, which will help to increase the individual income to 7,290 dinars against 6,600 dinars in 2012. However, this will require improved funding resources including private domestic consumption (4.6%), government spending (4.5%) and investment (6.8%).
It will also require, according to the prime minister, a 6.1% increase in export at constant prices and improvement of the competitiveness of the national economy.
He added that 2012 could recover its growth rate especially in regard to overall investment, which grew by 13.4%, accounting for 22.4% of GDP, thanks to the improvement of investment in infrastructure. Private investment and foreign direct investment reached 2,400 MTD. Foreign reserves under the year 2012 posted an increase of up to 11,200 MTD, by the end of 2012, equivalent to 106 days of export.
He also said the government is working to direct the subsidy to needy families only. Current spending on subsidies totaled, indeed, 4,200 MTD, or about 5.4% of GDP and 15.7% of the state budget, against 2,800 MTD in 2011.
With regard to social housing, Hamadi Jebali recalled the program to replace approximately 14,600 social housing units with an estimated investment of 220 MTD. Added to this, the construction of 30,000 housing units to needy families.
Finally, the prime minister said that 6,000 job positions will be dedicated to martyrs’ families and wounded of the Revolution, while 1,250 jobs will be allocated to families where nobody works.