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Tunisia Corruption

Tunisia commercial guide, trade Regulations, standards and customs information.

Tunisia Corruption

Postby bridgat » Tue Nov 18, 2008 8:13 am

Tunisia's penal code devotes eleven articles to defining and classifying corruption and to assigning corresponding penalties (including fines and imprisonment). Several other legal texts also address broader concepts of corruption including violations of the commercial or labor codes, which range from speculative financial practices to giving or accepting bribes. Information on the application of these laws or their effectiveness in combating corruption is not available. Anecdotal reports from the Tunisian business community and U.S. businesses with regional experience suggest that corruption exists, but is not as pervasive as that found in neighboring countries. Tunisia ranks in the upper third (sharing thirty-first place) of Transparency International's corruption index.

Tunisian law prohibits either giving or receiving a bribe. Penalties range from one to ten years imprisonment and fines up to twice the amount of the bribe. (Members of the judiciary convicted of involvement in bribery can be imprisoned for 20 years). The prohibition extends to bribes to foreign officials. Most U.S. firms involved in the Tunisian market have not generally identified corruption as a primary obstacle to foreign direct investment. Some potential investors have asserted that unfair practices and corruption among prospective local partners have delayed or blocked specific investment proposals, or there has been an appearance that cronyism or influence peddling has affected some investment decisions. There are no statistics specific to corruption. The Tunisian Ministry of Commerce publishes information on cases involving the infringement of the commercial code, but these incidents range from non-conforming labeling procedures to price/supply speculation. The print media reports abuses of fiduciary authority by public officials only on rare occasions.

The government's recent efforts to combat corruption have concentrated upon ensuring that price controls are respected, enhancing commercial competition in the domestic market, and harmonizing Tunisian laws with their counterparts in the European Union. The public sector market is governed by a comprehensive law (enacted in 1989) that sought to regulate each phase of public procurement and established the "Commission Supérieure des Marchés" (CSM - Higher Market Commission) to supervise the tender and award of major contracts. The government publicly supports a policy of transparency and has called for it in the conduct of privatization operations. American companies requesting U.S. government advocacy support in negotiations with the Tunisian government must sign an undertaking not to participate in corrupt practices. The Embassy has no public, documented information on individuals convicted of corruption (with the rare exception of the newspaper stories, as mentioned above).

The Ministry of Commerce's "Competitiveness Council" and its related regional arms (Brigades Economiques) have primary responsibility for identifying and reducing corruption. A variety of other bodies exist within each institution of the government to oversee the execution of public sector contracts. The value of the contract determines the level and identity of the responsible oversight committee, with the largest projects falling under the purview of the Higher Market Commission (CSM). This body reports directly to the Prime Minister's office.
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