Thursday, December 5, 2019

AfricanManager

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    The average monthly Money Market Rate (MMR) for November was 7.80% compared with 7.81% in October and 7.82% in September. This is after a stagnation at 7.83% between May and August 2019.

    It should be noted that the overnight MMR ended November at 7.75%, i.e. its lowest level since last February, the date on which the last increase in the key interest rate on the BCT came into effect.

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      Following the extension of the El Mdhilla triple superphosphate production plant, production will increase by nearly 95% to 900 thousand tons.

      This was indicated by by Abdessalem Chouwaya, Director of the operating unit that will start operating in the first quarter of 2020.

      In terms of employment, the plant intends to create 750 new jobs. Nevertheless, the El Mdhilla 2 plant’s needs for wet and dry phosphate are estimated at 1 million tons per year.

      The investments made for the development of the project are about 800 million dinars funded by Tunisian, Chinese and Korean construction companies.

      In addition, the new El Mdhilla 2 plant meets international standards in terms of environmental protection.

      It should be recalled that the plant should have been operational for 5 years, but social disruptions and protests in recent years have caused industrial activities to be delayed, the plant manager pointed out.

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        A €5 million financing agreement was signed on Tuesday morning in Tunis between the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Leasing Company (ILC) to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

        This is the third line of financing after a first worth €15 million in 2014 and a second line of €25 million in 2016.

        The loan is repayable over five years and should help CIL to finance the acquisition of vehicles and equipment for local small businesses, said Antoine Sallé de Chou, EBRD’s Head for Tunisia.

        The EBRD funds will help CIL to finance small local businesses, a segment that remains largely underserved and therefore cannot fulfil its potential, said the Bank.

        CIL is among the five largest leasing companies in the country. It is listed on the Tunis Stock Exchange and majority-controlled by a group of local investors.

        Since the start of its operations in Tunisia in 2012, the EBRD has invested €874 million across 42 projects and provided technical assistance to nearly 1,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), two-thirds of which are in the regions.

        The Bank’s investments aim to make Tunisia more competitive by opening markets and strengthening governance, promote economic inclusion for women, young people and those living in remote areas and strengthen the financial sector’s resilience, according to the same source.

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        Its financial statements show negative equity of 37,863,454 TD, including the loss for the year of 75,986,092 TND. It’s the Carthage Cement company. These revenues almost doubled, from 172.929 MD at the end of 2017 to 238.225 MD at the end of 2018. The company is therefore working well.

        However, this good productive health remains overwhelmed by operating expenses, which rose from 199.570 MD to 262.884 MD from one year (2017) to another (2018).

        These figures indicate that the company that the State and El Karama still cannot sell was already in deficit from the start, although this deficit has fallen by some 4 MD.

        Even more overwhelmed by financial charges (65 MD last year after the 49 MD of 2017), Carthage Cement’s losses increase by 7 MD from one balance sheet (2017) to another (2018).

        Tax audits and adjustments that are never-ending

        It should be recalled that the company, which was supposed to be a jewel of the cement industry in Tunisia, would almost be the subject of a plot.

        From 2011, it is the Tax Department that is coming down on it. Indeed, “a tax audit covering the period from October 22, 2008 to December 31, 2010, which mainly resulted in a tax of 16,368,135 TND, including 3,026,071 TND in penalties and 4,094,561 TND in excess of corporation tax”.

        Following a partial arrangement concluded with the tax authorities in July 2012, the company signed an acknowledgement of debt for an amount of 6,483,309 TND, including 1,381,793 TND in penalties.

        But the Tax Department had not yet finished with this company, which had been partially confiscated from Belhassen Trabelsi, who was not the sole owner.

        From August 2012, Carthage Cement receives an automatic tax order having the effect of “claiming from the company an additional tax of 7,228,764 TND including 780,420 TND of penalties and 3,960,618 TND of excess corporation tax”.

        The company may have challenged this taxation and brought the case before the court of first instance. The case is heard at first instance and on appeal in favor of the tax authorities. The company brought the case before the Court of Cassation and did not note the impact of these judgments in its books.

        The tax plot does not stop there. “A tax audit covering the period from January 1, 2011 to December 3, 12012 resulted in a tax of 3,152,700 TND, including 334,916 TND in penalties”.

        And again, the company made a partial arrangement in December 2017. Nevertheless, the company receives a new tax notification for a residual amount of 619,552 TD which it has challenged in court.

        However, the tax authorities have not yet said their last word and are now going into detail.

        A new tax audit, covering taxes, this time of the company “Les Grandes Carrières du Nord” (split in October 2008 into two companies, Carthage Cement SA and Les Grandes Carrières du Nord Trade) covering the period from January 1 to December 31, 2008.

        Carthage Cement, had already, as early as October 2010, received a notice of adjustment claiming additional taxes of 916,323 TND, including 299,478 TND in penalties.

        The company has expressed its opposition to the results of the audit. In July 2013, the same Carthage Cement received an automatic tax order requesting the company to pay additional taxes of 647,711 TD, including 227,418 TD in penalties.

        The company takes the case to the court of first instance, and the case is again decided in first instance in favor of the tax authorities.

        It should be noted that in a correspondence between the tax authorities and the Court of Appeal of December 28, 2016, the amount of the tax was reduced to 171,998 TND, including 77,486 TND in penalties.

        And again the State, despite its ownership (the State has 41.6% of CC’s capital, including 35 pc indirectly through holding companies) and which is unable to sell its shares because of the company’s financial situation, is attacking Carthage Cement.

        A social audit covering the financial years 2015 to 2017, the results of which were notified to the company in June 2018 and that showed an adjustment of 2,892,327 TND.

        The Company has expressed its opposition to the results of this audit. But let us bet that the CNSS will still win despite everything.

        Auditors talk about significant uncertainty about going concern… unless!

        In their latest report, the auditors drew attention to “the cash flow and operating difficulties encountered by the company.

        As a result, the company was unable to honor all its commitments to financial institutions and other third parties, including tax authorities and social security.

        The same auditors state that “the company’s shareholders’ equity as at December 31, 2018 became negative, due to cumulative losses of 320,686,427 TND as at December 31, 2018”.

        This uncertainty could be resolved if the rescue plan, developed last October, were quickly put in place.

        “The company’s management has confirmed that it has obtained agreements in principle with certain financial institutions to reschedule bank debts as part of the company’s financial restructuring plan,” the Statutory Auditors said.

        It further explained that “the company’s management has drawn up a business plan for the period 2019-2023 and on which it believes that the company would be able to honor its commitments.

        It should be noted that, given the high level of its debt, the company’s ability to honor its commitments remains dependent on the achievement of the expected performance of the business plan, as well as on the implementation of the proposed financial restructuring plan.

        Who can hear Carthage Cement’s warning call?

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          The Tawasol Group, headed by Moez Mlika DG of Hayatcom, was received on Tuesday, November 26, by Augustin Kibassa Maliba, Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and New Information and Communication Technologies (PT-NTIC) in DR Congo.

          Mlika, who was accompanied by the Ambassador of Tunisia to DR Congo, introduced the group and the opportunities offered by this Tunisian group in terms of cooperation with Congo in the telecommunications sector, and mainly presented the subsidiary of the Tawasol group, already established in DR Congo for two years.

          “We are specialized in everything that is building Telecom Networks whether it is optical fiber, GSM installation, pilons and installation of telecommunications equipment, making Swaps, 3G, 4G.

          Therefore, this activity is one of several activities of our group which is also present in everything that is aluminium industry, real estate development, tourism,” said the CEO of Hayatcom, reported by the Congolese site “laprosperite.online”.

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            Industrial production posted a 3.6% drop in Q3 of 2019 in comparison with the same period in 2018.

            This is the result of falling production in energy (-6.8%), mechanical and electrical engineering industries (- 2.1%), textile, clothing and leather (-2.9%) and the building materials, ceramics and glass sector (-0.4%).

            A slump in production was likewise seen in oil refining (-72.8%) and woodworking sectors (-3.9%).

            Meanwhile, output was on a rising trend in agri-food industries (+2.1%), chemical industries (+5 %), power generation and water distribution (+7.1%).

            Industrial production edges down 3.8% in September 2019

            Industrial production plummeted 3.8% in September 2019, as shown by the latest figures made available by the National Institute of Statistics (French: INS), as a result of the drop posted in the sectors of energy (-7.7%), mechanical and electrical engineering industries (-3.3%), textile, clothing and leather (-3.6%) and the building materials, ceramics and glass sector (-1.7%).

            This decline was also observed in the oil refining industry (-67.7%), as production of the Tunisian Company of Refining Industries (French: STIR) has ground to a halt since February, and woodworking (-6%).

            In the meantime, industrial production in agribusiness (+3.8%), chemical industries (+2.2%) and mining (+24.3%) as a result of production of crude phosphate rising from 232.2 thousand tons in September 2018 to 372.1 thousand tons in the same period in 2019.

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              Citrus production for 2019-2020 stood at around 366, 000 tons against 440,000 tons during the 2018-2019 season, that is a 17% fall, Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries Samir Taieb Thursday told a press conference.

              This is due to the rise in temperatures during the growth of fruits which caused their drop.

              Nearly 10,000 hectares of state-owned farming land will be used to set up cooperative farming units in several inland governorates, namely Siliana, Kairouan, Sidi Bouzid, Zaghouan, El Kef, Béja, Kasserine and Kébili, the minister said in another vein.

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                Elyes Mnakbi, CEO of national carrier Tunisair, announced on Thursday, November 28, the job cut of 1,200 employees over the next three years, i.e. 400 jobs per year from January 2020.

                Speaking to Mosaïque FM, he said the decision is part of a reform plan to address Tunisair’s financial problems, noting that record figures were registered in 2018, despite difficult economic conditions.

                In the same context, Mnakbi reported that Tunisair has registered more than 3 million passengers and 1500 million dinars of income.

                He pointed out that the national flag carrier made profits of 24 million dinars last July after abandoning unprofitable routes and the rental of aircraft.

                “The national company has earned 60 million dinars thanks to these measures,” he said.

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                  The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted a EUR 28 million loan to GO p.l.c. (GO).

                  The EIB loan is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the financial pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, the Juncker Plan. The project is the first entirely located in Malta to benefit from the EFSI guarantee.

                  The project, to be implemented over three years, will support GO’s investments targeting a fixed line and mobile very high capacity (VHC) network throughout Malta. GO will use the EIB loan to roll out its Fibre to the Home (FTTH) network to cover more than 70,000 additional households.

                  This project is part of an ongoing multi-year investment program through which GO is strengthening its infrastructure, introducing new technologies and improving operations with the objective of enhancing customer experience.

                  GO is 65.42% owned by the Tunisian incumbent operator, Tunisie Télécom. At the end of 2018, revenue reached €171.8 million (2017: €166.3 million) and earnings before depreciation (EBITDA) reached €69.5 million (2017: €65.6 million). As a result, the group’s operating income reached €33.1 million, up 12% of the €29.5 million recorded in 2017.

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                    Tourism revenues exceeded 5 billion dinars, up 38.3%, by November 20, 2019, compared to last year, according to statistics published by the Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday.

                    In foreign currencies, the revenue growth is estimated at 29.6% in Euros and 22.3% in Dollars.

                    The department pointed out that 8.3 million tourists had visited Tunisia until November 20, up 14% compared to last year.

                    Hence, the target of attracting 9 million tourists in 2019 is now easy to achieve.

                    Just over half of the arrivals are North Africans (4.1 million tourists) with a rise of 16.4% compared to November 2018, while Europeans represent about a third (2.6 million visitors) up 16.2%.

                    The number of overnight stays recorded during this period reached 27.8 million, up 11.8% compared to the same period in 2018.

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