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Tunisia raises electricity, natural gas prices

A local walks near a petroleum pumping station in Tunisia on 24 May 2017 [KHALED EL HOUCH/AFP/Getty Images]
A local walks near a petroleum pumping station in Tunisia on 24 May 2017 [KHALED EL HOUCH/AFP/Getty Images]

A Tunisian official announced on Friday that his country had raised the prices of domestic consumption of electricity and natural gas in the latest series of price increases in a country suffering the worst financial crisis in its history.

The African country is seeking to reach a new loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for reforms that are not supported by its people, including cutting energy and food subsidies and freezing wages.

Sami Ben Hamida, commercial director of the state-owned Tunisian Company of Electricity and Gas, confirmed in an interview with Tunisian Mosaique FM radio that the increase in electricity prices was 12 per cent for those whose consumption reaches 200 kWh per month.

Ben Hamida added that an increase of 16 per cent had been added for those whose natural gas consumption exceeds 30 cubic metres per month.

The Tunisian Minister of Agriculture stated earlier this week that Tunisia would raise the prices of some foodstuffs, including milk, eggs and chicken. This came after farmers protested a surge in barley prices.

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Unions and politicians warn that the repeated wave of price increases and the decline in purchasing power amid a severe economic crisis may lead to social unrest and protests that the authorities may not be able to control.

President Kais Saied is already facing repeated political protests to force him to return to the democratic course adopted by the 2011 revolution.

Last month, the government also raised the fuel price by five per cent, the third increase this year.

An official from the Ministry of Energy told Reuters last month that Tunisia will raise domestic fuel prices every month this year by at least three per cent, which could mean an increase of at least 30 per cent by the end of 2022.

The government says that reaching a loan deal with the IMF is necessary and critical to avoid a complete collapse of the economy. However, the influential Tunisian General Labour Union has rejected these reforms and threatened to carry out a national strike for public sector jobs and state-owned institutions.

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