By Annie Berger, MES France.

On 30 June 2020, Tunisia is the first country to vote a framework law on SSE in the Arab countries.The Tunisian Parliament adopted it almost unanimously. Thus, the Tunisian State has equipped itself with the legal and regulatory framework to develop an economy of people and not of capital, an economy that emphasises the general interest, social utility, ecological transition and the inclusion of marginalised people.
“Formalising the informal economy” is one of the objectives assigned to SSE, which is important in a country where the informal economy represents more than 55% of the economy.

This law is not very far from the law voted in France in 2014, but some courageous features should be highlighted.
First of all, the creation of a higher council of SSE at the level of the presidency of the government and the establishment of a Tunisian body of SSE under the supervision of the ministry in charge of SSE. This is a strong signal of the State’s commitment. This body will have, among other things, the mission of deploying trainings and support programmes for SSE enterprises.

Other important measures include the reservation of public procurement contracts for SSE enterprises and measures to limit the lucrative activity of enterprises; as far as salaries are concerned, it is established that the salaries and annual bonuses of the three employees with the highest grades cannot exceed 8 times the sectoral minimum wage.

The networks, associations and activists for a social and solidarity economy, who have worked hard for more than 6 years in favour of this law, welcome these advances. It must be said that the SSE has a long history in Tunisia with the importance of cooperatives and agricultural development groups since the 1960s and that the departure of Ben Ali in 2011 has raised great hopes.
However, these actors are very worried. Since the vote of the law, they still do not know to which ministry they will be attached, if they will have a representative at the government level, they have no more interlocutors and the decrees of application are slow to be voted.

Political, economic and social life is extremely tense, unemployment, especially among young graduates, is at a very high point, many hopeless young people are risking their lives almost daily, to join Europe in the hands of a mafia economy, added to the pandemic of course,. All these factors make it even more urgent to implement and support SSE and its actors.

See also:

  • The law itself on the Legislations page of (in French) : here

Furthermore, we would like to inform you that the 2nd International Forum of Social Economy and SolidaireⓇ entitled “Reciprocity in cooperation, from local to international: creativity of SSE in times of crisis” will take place in Carthage, Tunisia from 6 to 8 April 2021. It is a scientific event and an open forum for exchanges facilitating the bringing together of SSE actors, civil society, territories and universities, from the North and the South, to create the conditions of accessibility for all to the resources of a territorial, sustainable and solidarity-based development.

Download the call here (in French).