The Tunisian President, Kaïs Saïed, filled ministerial positions vacant for months on Wednesday, January 24, including that of the economy, in a context of increased financial difficulties in his country, also plagued by political tensions.

The new Minister of Economy and Planning, Feryel Ouerghi, holds a doctorate and is the author of publications on financial crises and exchange rate policies. She replaces Samir Saïed, dismissed in October 2023 without the reasons being disclosed.

The president also appointed Fatma Thabet as head of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines, replacing Neila Gonji, who was dismissed in May 2023. Tunisia is engaged in a partnership with the European Union (EU ) which includes an important energy component.

The new Minister of Employment and Vocational Training, Lotfi Dhieb, is a former director general within this ministry. He replaces Nasreddine Nsibi, dismissed from office in February 2023. The president also appointed three secretaries of state, responsible in particular for small and medium-sized businesses and the energy transition.

Tunisia’s economy is at a standstill, with just 1.3% growth last year and an unemployment rate of around 16%. The country has also been shaken by political tensions since the coup by which President Saïed granted himself full powers in July 2021.

In a serious financial crisis, Tunis concluded an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in October 2022 for a loan of 2 billion dollars (around 1.8 billion euros), but negotiations bogged down when the president rejected the reforms recommended by the IMF.

The Tunisian state makes a point of repaying its debts (80% of GDP) but lacks the liquidity to provide its population with enough basic products, which leads to recurring shortages of flour, sugar or rice.