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Tunisia bakeries protest ban on sale of subsidised flour

August 8, 2023 at 12:59 pm

Demonstrators lift placards during a rally for bakery staff in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Commerce in Tunis on August 7, 2023, following its decision to cut the access of some bakeries to subsidised flour [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

Dozens of Tunisian workers and owners of modern bakeries staged a sit-in yesterday in front of the Ministry of Commerce in protest of a government decision to stop selling them subsidised flour, Anadolu news agency reported.

The protesters called on the government to sell flour “justly” and rejected the “policy of cutting off the livelihoods” of bakery owners and workers.

In statements to the media, Mohamed Jamali, president of the Association of Modern Bakeries, said: “We demand our right to work with dignity.”

“Our bakeries receive only a little government support while other bakeries take flour with 100 per cent support. The state’s measures came to exclude us from the scene and force 18,000 workers into unemployment,” he added.

Modern bakeries are privately-owned and produce baguettes and other kinds of bread and pastries in which they use part of the subsidised flour.

READ: 1,500 bakeries suspend production in Tunisia

“We will not return until we receive our rights… We want to meet the President of the Republic to lift the grievance on us… Just as he listened to the other parties, we want him to listen to us,” Jamali said.

Last week, the Ministry of Commerce decided to ban the sale of subsidised flour and semolina to about 1,500 modern bakeries, leading the Union of Modern Bakeries to announce a sit-in starting yesterday and ongoing for a period of 15 days.

Tunisia has, for months, suffered from a shortage of bread that has caused long queues outside bakeries. The government has issued a plan to start the gradual abolition of bread subsidies over a four-year period.

The North African state has been experiencing a deep financial crisis which has caused frequent shortages of basic products such as sugar, milk and rice, coinciding with an accelerating inflation rate of 9.8 per cent, according to official figures issued in early December.