Boutheina Ben Yaghlane, General Manager of the Tunisian Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) answers our questions about the actions the institution is undertaking to fight the coronavirus pandemic
Because trust is the cornerstone of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), the institution has lived up to expectations and has been very reactive by initiating a number of actions and mechanisms to provide support and assistance in the face of this major health crisis in Tunisia and the whole world.
By committing all of its human, financial and technical resources, the CDC is there to protect the Tunisian economy against the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a responsible and committed long-term investor, the CDC continues to play its counter-cyclical role in this unprecedented economic and social context.
Boutheina Ben Yaghlane, General Manager of the CDC, answered our questions on the institution’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Tunisia.
Tunisia decided early on to employ containment in order to stop the spread of Covid-19. What actions did the CDC take?
In order to respond to the challenges posed by the coronavirus and to contribute to the collective action to combat its spread in Tunisia, the CDC decided, as a precautionary measure, to switch to telework mode as the first measure for almost all of its employees, from the second half of March. Only a very small number of people go to the offices for essential maintenance work, while observing the strict health regulations.
The impact of this pandemic on the economy is important at the national level as well as internationally. Tunisia has not been spared. What are the stimulus measures taken by the CDC?
Apart from the health implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, negative economic impacts have already been recorded, causing job losses and a slowdown in exports and growth. The need to have a complete and rapid plan is all the more urgent since the traditional vectors of the Tunisian economy have been weaker during the post-revolution period.
To contribute to economic resilience and minimise the negative impacts of the pandemic, the CDC has proposed three priority investment mechanisms:
- The first measure is to support the public health sector by setting up a financing line of 100m Tunisian dinars, by coordinating with foreign donors (CDC partners), in order to finance urgent acquisition of equipment needed by public hospitals, at the request of the Ministry of Public Health.
- The second measure is to support the strategic economic sectors by the creation of an Emergency Investment Fund of 500m Tunisian dinars with a first closing of 100m Tunisian dinars, in order to help SMEs and give a strong signal as to the ability of the strategic sectors to resume sustained growth based on new investments. This intervention will be carried out in Quasi Equity to ensure the strengthening of the permanent financial resources of resilient companies.
- The third measure is to create a Recovery Fund (Cash out) of 100m Tunisian dinars dedicated exclusively to the repurchase of investments made by the Investment Funds to enable and encourage them to continue their strong financial support for SMEs and resilient companies.
R&D and digitalisation have a crucial role to play in the fight against Covid-19. How has the CDC contributed to the deployment of the Tunisian Research and Development Platform?
The Tunisian Research and Development Platform was created as part of the implementation of the dynamic national strategy to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research led an inter-ministerial mobilisation bringing together the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and Digital Economy, Ministry of Industry and SMEs and the Tunisian CDC in order to support strong scientific and technological solutions provided to the health sector’s needs.
The First Virtual Fair in Sciences Technology and Innovation in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic was organised by the inter-ministerial group on April 14, 2020, a first of its kind on an international scale, aiming to promote technological solutions “Made in Tunisia” and by Tunisian scientists. It thereby promotes Tunisian know-how in the fields of Science, Technology and Innovation in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Cultural Sector is the weak link: intellectuals have raised a cry of alarm. Is the CDC promoting culture in the country?
In perfect harmony with its investment philosophy, the CDC is supporting one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic: culture. The CDC’s interest in the cultural sector is of paramount importance. We are effectively present in a big way compared to our available resources. Culture includes literature, painting, music, theatre, cinema, archaeology and even gaming (a boon for young people). We are partnering with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs to help a sector facing enormous difficulties and preparing for the post-pandemic period to help our people recover quickly thanks to what only culture can offer them.
Through viable projects that last over time, the presence and financial support of the CDC will allow the cultural sector to receive a breath of fresh air. The CDC is a patient and long-term investor. Profitability is certainly a legal obligation for us, but profitability can be deferred over time.