Tunisian Prime Minister Hicham El-Mechichi faces a difficult test in front of Parliament due to the obstacles that accompany controlling the state budget and voting on it, amid a stifling economic and epidemic crisis, and conditional support from the parliamentary bloc that supports him.
In a precedent not witnessed by successive governments, the prime minister was forced last October to withdraw the budget amendment project after the Central Bank refused to lend in order to bridge the budget deficit, which reached 13.4%.
In a continuation of the chapters of the adjustment budget crisis, the Heart of Tunisia party – which is one of the components of the political alliance supporting the Mecheid government – announced that it would not vote on it if the prime minister did not respond to fundamental amendments in accordance with the party’s vision.
The government returned the draft revised budget to the Finance Committee in the Assembly of the Representatives of the People after changes were made, and the prime minister pledged to rationalize state expenditures with the aim of limiting domestic borrowing and reducing the deficit to the limits of 11.4%.
Leader in “Heart of Tunisia”, Johar Al-Mughairbi, said in a statement to Al-Jazeera Net that his party supports the Mechanically-appointed government, but in return he will not give it a blank document regarding voting on the general budget, and it requires introducing amendments that respond to the economic and social vision of the “Heart of Tunisia”.
He considered that the “grave” imbalances and the lack of transparency included in the supplementary financial and financial bill, not only bears responsibility for the current prime minister, but also for his predecessors, Ilyas Fakhfakh and Youssef Chahed.
Mughairbi rejected accusations against his party of practicing “political blackmail” regarding the vote to pass the budget.
On the other hand, he directed his criticisms of some parties that he said had overlooked what he called “political fraud” carried out by the Chahid and Fakhfakh government during its preparation of the Supplementary Finance Law for the year 2020 and the Finance Law for 2021.
He considered that the same parties – the Democratic Current and the People’s Movement – that refuse to vote on the budget are the same that supported former Prime Minister Elias Fakhfakh during his preparation of the same budget, describing it as destructive opposition.
Repair or leave
Leaders in the Ennahda Movement – which is one of the components of the political coalition supporting the Mecheid government – expressed several reservations On the draft budget for the next year, where MP Muhammad al-Qoumani published a lengthy article entitled “The Meshishi Government in the Budget Examination, Either Reform or Leave.”
The MP said that the non-partisan Mechanically-appointed government – which was recommended last September – is today “on the test of its relationship with the political belt that gave it confidence,” noting that the ratification of the draft budget and amendment “will be a difficult test for it.”
Al-Qoumani wondered whether the parties supporting the Mechani government would bear the burden of severely imbalanced public finances, and whether they were able to pay the cost of budget options that they did not participate in developing or approving.
The leader in Ennahda called on the government to “adopt the file of urgent major economic and social reforms, and pledge to do so before Parliament and before its political belt to ensure its survival and continuity.”
And he warned of any delay that might actually lead the parties to raise confidence from the Mechanically and his government, which means not to vote on the budget, and he did not rule out that this would be “the beginning of the end of the Mechanically’s government.”
Imbalances in the draft budget
The leader of the “People’s Movement” Hatem Al-Boubakri believes that during the drafting of the budget law for the next year, Al-Mashishi adopted his “parliamentary belt” and did not expand the circle of his consultations with other parties and national organizations despite the sensitivity of the file.
Al-Boubakri indicated in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net that the “People’s Movement” will not vote on the Finance Law in its current form, because it includes financial and fiscal imbalances that will have grave repercussions on the economic and social situation in the country.
He pointed out that his party is open to any adjustments made by the prime minister in the budget that respond to the aspirations of Tunisians and their economic and social concerns and relieve them of their financial burdens.
Regarding the accusations against the party of practicing “political misrepresentation” in its relationship with the government of Fakhfakh and the government of the Meshchy, Al-Boubakri pointed out that the government of Fakhfakh is not responsible for the current budget project and that it has only prepared its main lines for it.
It is noteworthy that the Parliament Office decided during its meeting yesterday, Thursday, to postpone the plenary session devoted to presenting the Prime Minister’s statement on the draft state budget for 2021 until next Saturday.
The office explained that this postponement came in response to the Finance, Planning and Development Committee’s request to amend the calendar of the public sessions dedicated to discussing the state budget project for 2021.