EconSource: Tunisian Government, Labor Union Sign Deal on Public Worker Wage Hike

Tunisia’s government and the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) signed an agreement on Tuesday to increase the wages of 800,000 public sector workers for the second time this year after weeks of negotiations. The deal for a monthly wage hike of 50 Tunisian dinars ($25), which will take effect in January, was signed between Prime Minister Habib Essid and Head of the UGTT Hussein Abassi. The increase will add about 500 million dinars in public spending to the budget. “The economic situation of the country is very difficult, and we have to make sacrifices to keep social tensions calm. But we have to get back to work and productivity to revive the economy,” Essib said. International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde last week urged Tunisia to accelerate economic reforms, noting that public sector pay in Tunisia accounts for about 13.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, one of the highest rates in the world. Meanwhile, Reuters reported Tunisia’s Tourism Minister as saying that the number of foreign tourists in the country dropped by 20 percent to 4 million in the first eight months of 2015. [Reuters, 9/22/2015]

KRG to boost oil exports to Turkey, member of parliament says
The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) will increase oil exports to Turkey by up to 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of 2015, an official from the northern Iraqi parliament announced on Tuesday “Including Kirkuk oil, we currently deliver 700,000 bpd to Turkey, and we suppose it will rise to 900,000 bpd by the end of this year,” said Delshad Shaban, Deputy Head of the Oil and Gas Committee in the Kurdish parliament. Shaban added that the KRG delivers 150,000 bpd of Kirkuk oil to the Iraqi government’s oil company (SOMO) at the Ceyhan port of Turkey. He emphasized that the KRG will continue to independently sell oil to international markets due to budget issues with the Iraqi central government. Meanwhile, a US court ruled on Monday that the KRG cannot sell Iraqi crude oil in the United States, dismissing an attempt by the KRG to overturn a judge’s earlier decision against its planned sale of oil to an unidentified buyer in the United States.[Anadolu Agency, 9/22/2015]

Gulf countries will stick to currency dollar pegs, Fitch says
Gulf countries’ currency pegs to the dollar are under pressure from low oil prices and a stronger dollar, but there is no chance of them being abolished, ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday. Oil exporters in the region including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have shackled their currencies to the dollar in longstanding arrangements that made sense when commodity prices were high and the dollar was weak. Paul Gamble, senior director at Fitch Ratings, said that abolishing the pegs would be a political rather than an economic decision. “The central banks [of these countries] – they do not have the tools and they are not preparing to move for an exchange rate arrangement that is not a peg,” he said. [Reuters, 9/22/2015]

African Development Bank allocates $450 million for Egypt in 2015
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has allocated has so far $450 million to Egypt in 2015, which plans to develop a strategy for cooperation from 2015 to 2019, Egypt’s new Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr announced on Tuesday. Nasr met with a delegation from the AfDB on Monday to discuss the strategy. The ministry stated that since 1974, the AfDB has provided an estimated $1.9 billion to Egypt for more than thirty-five projects in sectors including agriculture, transportation, and irrigation. During the meeting, Nasr and the AfDB agreed to complete financing for the development of the Sharm El Sheikh International Airport, the deal for which was first signed in May. Also on Monday, Nasr confirmed that the ministry is working with various partners to receive needed financing for national development projects. She will participate in annual meetings with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in October. [Cairo Post, 9/22/215]

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