Call for moratorium and audit of Tunisia’s debt
Rather than demanding funds be used to service external debts, the coalition argues that financial resources available to the Tunisian authorities should be freed up in order to address the social needs which sparked discontent and the recent protests. They also highlighted the fact that the governor of the Tunisian central bank had earmarked €577 million to pay external creditors in 2011, a sum equivalent to six years worth of health budgets.
Tunisia has been accumulating debt since the 1960s when considerable amounts were lent to the recently independent nation by the US, European and Arab countries. Tunisia also became indebted to private creditors at high rates of interest. Financial lending continued despite a deteriorating human rights record and dubious political situation. It has also been estimated that Zine el Abidine Ben Ali has left Tunisia with £3 billion of siphoned funds.
The coalition has stated: "Such a degree of indebtedness has not improved people's living conditions, and the wealth accumulated by the Ben Ali clan over 23 years in power is proof that significant embezzlements took place with the complicity of a number of creditors." As a result their appeal also calls for a full debt audit to determine the legitimacy of the debts bestowed upon the Tunisian people. In meeting their requests, the coalition believes that the European Parliament will be able to "prevent a new cycle of illegitimate and unsustainable debt while underlining the responsibility of European creditors, the responsibility of the international financial institution in which the European member States are playing a preponderant role, and the next Tunisian government."