By Tarek Amara / Reuters
TUNIS: Tunisia has cut its economic growth forecast for this year to 3.5 percent, down from a previous forecast of 4.5 percent due to declines in foreign investment and tourism, a finance ministry official said on Tuesday.
“In the supplementary budget, we have changed the outlook to 3.5 percent,” junior minister Slim Besbes said.
Tunisia’s government said in December the economy would grow 4.5 percent in 2012, but ongoing strikes have put off foreign investment, forcing it to cut its forecast.
An uprising in January 2011 forced Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali to leave Tunisia after almost 23 years in power, sparking the “Arab Spring” revolts that have swept the Middle East.
But the protests and strikes that followed forced some businesses to suspend operations and drove away foreign tourists, on whom Tunisia relies for much of its revenue.
A moderate Islamist party won the election held in the wake of the revolution, and now leads a coalition government.
The party’s leaders have sought to reassure investors and tourists and promised to pursue business-friendly policies, but their left-wing secular opponents have organized successive strikes and protests that have undermined efforts to restart the economy, which shrank 1.8 percent in 2011.
The government has also revised up its spending in the new supplementary budget for 2012.
“The supplementary budget also includes an increase in spending of 1 billion dinars ($664 million),” Besbes added.
The government last December allocated 5.2 billion dinars for development spending in 2012 far below the 13.5 billion budgeted for 2011.