The ALERT Association specializing in the fight against the rentier economy in Tunisia has just announced that after a long search, it was able to arrive at the structure according to which the quotas of durum wheat and soft wheat are distributed by the Office des Céréales (OC) to pasta manufacturers.
ALERT denounced the non-compliance of this distribution with the provisions of articles 5 and 7 of the law on competition and prices while indicating, to this effect, that a single company monopolizes more than 34% of the durum wheat quotas while that two companies monopolize 49% of the quotas and this, under the supervision of the ministry of the trade and the development of the exports.
Section 5 of the Competition and Pricing Act prohibits unlawful agreements to divide the market and also prevents market domination by cartels. However, the market is effectively divided between a limited number of participants within the framework of specific interests and this, contrary to the regulations, according to ALERT.
Faced with this situation, the association denounces the silence of the supervisory ministry (Ministry of Commerce) which acts without transparent and clear criteria to fight against sectoral concentration. Article 7 prohibits any economic actor from monopolizing more than 30% of market share, specifies the association.
A rentier system, according to ALERT, is a system of political and economic institutions and rules that allows small groups to extract protected rents and superprofits on a large scale and at the expense of the rest of the population.
This extraction is often done by limiting the opportunities of others or by restricting internal competition, therefore by monopolizing and appropriating opportunities and resources, without an obvious objective of common good.
Given its systemic and institutional nature, such a system, although illegitimate, is largely legal and/or tolerated. For rentier practices to reach a systemic level, the involvement of the State is necessary, insists the association.
A study entitled “Analysis of the cereal sector in Tunisia and identification of the main points of dysfunction of the origin of the Losses” and published in 2018 by the FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries reveals that the branch pasta and couscous has 6 companies in operation (around 20 in 1990). They are all integrated into semolina mills and are located in the Greater Tunis region (2 units), Sousse (3 units) and Sfax (1 unit).
Production is experiencing a relatively significant increase from 223.4 thousand tons in 2008 to 235 thousand tons in 2013 and 256,000 in 2016 (of which 60% short pasta and 40% long pasta), while the production of couscous is experiencing quite an evolution. slow, i.e. 65,000 tonnes in 2007 against only 72,842 tonnes in 2015.
The grain sector has a multiplicity of stakeholders from the production link to that of final consumption (Office of Cereals, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce, Office of Commerce of Tunisia, Cooperatives and private collectors who act as agents of the Cereals Office, agro-food companies, etc.). These stakeholders do not know a real coordination between them, ensures the study.
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