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Tunisia: Parliament to debate law on central bank autonomy

Tunisia's government will ask parliament next month to strengthen central bank autonomy to shield it from political interference, a reform sought by international lenders, a central bank source said.

After the 2011 uprising that ousted President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's central bank governor clashed with the government over its attempts to intervene in monetary policy and was sacked in 2012 over those disagreements.
Five years after the uprising, Tunisia is still working through a raft of reforms to help bolster the economy, create jobs and cut back on the public spending its lenders see as a major challenge to growth.

According to draft legislation seen by Reuters, the central bank will not take instructions from the government and will have absolute control over monetary policy, currency reserves and gold reserves.

Currently in Tunisia, there is no law prohibiting the government from seeking to intervene in central bank policy or making demands on reserves.

"The goal is to establish a modern central bank and good monetary governance and avoid any possible political bickering or demands to impose certain monetary policies regardless of the economic trend for the next government," said the central bank official familiar with the bill.

The draft does include a clause allowing the government to form a committee to scrutinise the central bank in case of any suspicions of corruption or criminal misdoing.

The legislation, prepared with International Monetary Fund support, includes a new central bank committee which could issue recommendations to the government on how to handle the impact of global economic problems.
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