Saied Denies Tunisia’s Food Shortages, Cites Detainees


Saied is accusing those banged up, who have no way of replying, that they are in fact responsible for food shortages, despite expert economists pointing to his cash-strapped government


Tunisia’s President Kais Saied is resorting to desperate tactics to justify food shortages in the country, according to Reuters.

Saied, the agency reports, has accused people detained in a wave of recent arrests of being responsible for food shortages and price increases, saying they wanted to fuel a social crisis.

Mr Saied vowed to “clean the country” in his first official comments on the arrests made, during a meeting with Tunisia’s trade minister on February 14th.

Since February 11th police have detained a number of leading figures with links to the opposition or to critics of Mr Saied, including prominent politicians, a powerful businessman and the head of Tunisia’s main independent news outlet.

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“The recent arrests have shown that a number of criminals involved in conspiring against the internal and external security of the state are the ones behind the crises by distributing food stuff and raising their prices,” Mr Saied said during the meeting, according to a video posted online.

He did not give any details on which of the detained people he was referring to or how they were responsible for the crisis.

In the video, Mr Saied was shown calling on judges to take appropriate decisions against “the traitors who seek to fuel the social crisis”.

Tunisians have been suffering for months from shortages of food, including sugar, cooking oil, coffee, milk and butter.

However experts have pointed out that the shortages, in fact, have little if anything to do with the sabotage which the president is claiming.

They say that the shortages, which have affected subsidised products, are mainly caused by a crisis in public finances as the state attempts to avert bankruptcy while negotiating an international bailout.

They say generous food subsidies can exacerbate shortages during times of crisis and urge subsidy reductions, which the Tunisian government has begun implementing. “The current subsidies system is a failure and very costly for public finances,” Mr Saied recently said.

Economists say any positive impact of subsidy reductions, including an increase in supply, is slow to emerge. In the meantime, shortages have continued and public anger shows no sign of abating.




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