Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Tunisian President declares war on food speculation

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Wednesday, March 9th 2022 à 16:10 | Read 595 times

Kaïs Saïed has asked his Head of Government Najla Bouden to ensure the proper functioning of distribution channels (photo: Tunisian Presidency)
Kaïs Saïed has asked his Head of Government Najla Bouden to ensure the proper functioning of distribution channels (photo: Tunisian Presidency)
TUNISIA. Kaïs Saïed intends to do everything possible to fight against the monopoly and speculation on foodstuffs in his country. Speaking on Wednesday 9 March 2022 at the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior, Kaïs Saïed said he wanted "a merciless war against these speculators who aim to starve Tunisians and undermine social peace". He said that "the fight against the distribution channels must be pursued relentlessly and of course, within the framework of the law". He is preparing to issue a presidential decree on distribution channels to "set the objectives of the fight against speculation and monopolisation" and speaks of an "unprecedented situation in the history of the country."

This text will reinforce the sanctions against the offenders by including, in addition to the seizure of the goods and equipment, prison sentences. "The zero hour has struck," he said.

The day before, the President received the head of government, Najla Bouden. He did not fail to mention this problem, indicating that "the phenomenon of monopolies on raw and subsidised materials, which has spread throughout the country, was not one of greed and illegal profit, but rather of organised networks whose aim is to starve citizens and destabilise civil peace for clear political ends", as stated in a press release.

7,800 tickets issued in February 2022

"The basic commodities are available, but the media are exaggerating certain incidents and situations in order to sow chaos in the country," laments Kaïs Saïed. On Friday 4 March 2022, the Tunisian press reported a seizure by the National Guard of Douar Hicher (western suburb of Tunis) of thirty-two tonnes of food products. This stock, found in a clandestine warehouse and intended for speculation, included more than two tonnes of semolina and 600 kg of subsidised flour, as well as more than four tonnes of couscous and as much pasta.

In January and February 2022, the economic control services of the Regional Directorate of Commerce in Tunis conducted searches in some bakeries and restaurants in Sidi Hassine, Djebel Jelloud and La Marsa for possession and use of subsidised flour, exclusively intended for the manufacture of bread for family consumption, to make different types of special breads and generate illegal profits. On Monday 28 February 2022, Houssemeddine Touiti, Director of Competition and Economic Research at the Tunisian Ministry of Trade, stated on the national channel Al-Watania that economic control agents had issued no less than 7,800 official reports against speculators in one month, applied 350 administrative sanctions and seized 660 tonnes of subsidised cereal products.

According to Maher Ghribi, Regional Director of Commerce in Tunis, interviewed by Radio Tunisie Numérique, "there is no shortage of basic necessities." The empty stalls, mainly in supermarkets, would come from the fear of Tunisians of running out, precisely for fear of a shortage. He revealed that the seized stocks will be injected into legal distribution channels.

On Friday 4 March 2022, the former Minister of Trade, Mohsen Hassan, indicated that the main cause of shortages are the lack of strategic stock in Tunisia for certain products such as cereals (especially wheat). He predicted that, with the war between Ukraine and Russia, the main world suppliers, even greater difficulties would arise in the coming weeks. Mohsen Hassan had also asked the President to "reveal the truth to the people".

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