Economic Recovery and Structural Adjustment Programme, 1986-90

The ERSAP led to tariff reductions, quantitative restrictions on imports, introduction of a value added tax, reduction in personal income taxes, devaluation of the Tunisian dinar, and negotiations with creditors to extend the maturity on the country's US$10 billion foreign debt. The privatization programme led to the full or partial privatization of nearly 160 state-owned companies. While public investment declined, the ensuing slowdown in growth was moderate (going from 3.7 per cent during 1980-5 to 3.0 per cent per annum during 1985-90). Macroeconomic stability was restored and the external debt burden fell. In addition, there was a sharp fall in inflation (below 5 per cent in less than ten years) and a reduction in the current account deficit from 7.8 per cent of GDP in 1986 to 2.4 per cent in 1996. Fiscal discipline and the realignment of the exchange rate were instrumental in reducing public and external deficits and placing the economy on a sustainable growth trajectory. The reduction in political instability following regime change in 1987 improved the business climate creating a vibrant private sector—especially in export-oriented activities.

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