EU aid to Tunisia ‘having impact but poorly managed’

4 April 2017

Procurement reforms in Tunisia have helped ease concerns among European Union (EU) members over how aid to the North African country is being spent, following a critical audit.

Between 2011 and 2015, EU assistance to Tunisia totalled €1.3bn.

The European Commission’s audit found the aid contributed significantly to Tunisia’s democratic transition and economic stability after the “Jasmine revolution” of January 2011. However, it criticised how the spending had been managed.

EU funding was designed to help the country’s political and economic reforms. It covered education, water, environment and state budget reform as well as procurement of equipment.

But the European Commission’s audit said: “The implementation of reforms regarding public private partnerships and public procurement has been a slow process.

“A new law on public procurement which meets international standards has been adopted and an action plan to replace the cumbersome procedures is ongoing.”

It stressed that the Tunisian government’s key challenge now is to increase procurement transparency through the effective use of external and internal audits. It said the slow pace of reform was due to numerous changes of government.

It also pointed out that reforms concerning public private partnerships and public procurement have met “fierce resistance” from some quarters of government.

But it but added: “All the related implementing regulations have been adopted and the effective implementation of the laws is starting in earnest.”

Positive results are starting to be registered as a result of the reforms, especially in public procurement and the digitalisation of all procurement procedures.

Tunisia’s revolution was the first of the Arab Spring uprisings.

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