Thursday, April 19, 2018



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    Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Sabri Bachtobji, on Monday, discussed with Congolese Minister Delegated in charge of Congolese Abroad Emmanuel Ilunga an air transport agreement.

    Bachtobji said “Tunisia is preparing to inaugurate a direct flight to the Democratic Republic of Congo”.

    Tunisia gives special importance to strengthening relations with Congo, he said, recalling, in this regard, the opening since 2018 of a Tunisian trade representation in Kinshasa.

    The second session of the Tunisian-Congolese joint commission, expected during the second half of 2018, will allow the signing of new bilateral cooperation agreements of a priority nature.

    The Congolese government wants to strengthen its cooperation with Tunisia in areas where it benefits from vanguard experience, like higher education, vocational training, training of trainers, civil aviation and incentive mechanisms for investment, the Congolese minister who is heading a delegation on a v sit to Tunisia from April 15 to 17, 2018 said on his part.

    He also stressed his country’s desire to intensify trade between countries, particularly through the import of construction products.

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      The average price of gasoline in the world is 1.16 US dollars per liter. However, there is a substantial difference between prices in these countries.

      In general, rich countries have higher prices while poor countries and oil producing and exporting countries have much lower prices.

      A notable exception is the United States, which is an economically advanced country with low gas prices.

      Price differences between countries are due to various taxes and subsidies for gasoline. All countries have access to the same oil prices in international markets but then decide to impose different taxes.

      As a result, the retail price of gasoline is different. This is what we read on the specialized site “GlobalPetrolPrices”

      In Tunisia according to the same source, the price of gasoline is US $ 0.76 per liter.

      By comparison, the average price of gasoline in the world for this period is 1.16 US dollars.

      The graph below shows the price of gasoline in the country compared to other countries.

      Tunisia is ranked 32nd country where the price of gasoline is less than 1 dollar per liter.

      This low price, compared to the international price, is in fact due to the subsidy.

      Indeed, out of a total of TD 6 billion, fuel subsidy represented some 68% in 2013 or the equivalent of TND 3.734 billion and this has not decreased.

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        The “Banque Nationale Agricole” (BNA) has just published its individual and consolidated financial statements for the 2017 financial year.

        The Bank has recorded a sharp increase in its net profit which reached 198.6 million dinars against 140 million in 2016, i.e. a growth of 41.8%.

        During the 2017 financial year, the bank sold 5.417.780 shares held in the SFBT’s capital for a sale price of 100.160 million dinars.

        The capital gain realized by the bank following this sale transaction is of the order of 95.9 million dinars.

        For this purpose, bank operating income showed a significant increase of 20.4% to 812.8 million dinars against 674.8 million a year earlier.

        As for operating expenses, they rose from 296 million dinars at the end of December 2016 to 368.5 million at the end of last December, registering an increase of 24.5%.

        BNA thus saw its Net Banking Income (BNP) increase by 17.3% to reach a record level of 444.3 million dinars against 378.8 million a year earlier.

        Likewise, operating income increased by 51.5% to 234 million dinars against 154.4 million in 2016.

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          The Tunisian Foreign Trade Insurance Company (COTUNACE), on Monday, published its financial statements for the fiscal year 2017 showing a net profit up 31% to 3.6 million dinars against 2.7 million in 2016.

          The company also announced that it will hold its Ordinary General Meeting on April 27, 2018.

          Certified ISO 9001 version 2000 since 2005, COTUNACE offers insurance products designed to protect Tunisian companies against the risks of non-payment and market interruptions of commercial or non-commercial origin inherent to international trade.

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            According to its individual financial statements as at 31 December, Amen Bank achieved a net profit of 113.9 million dinars against 90 million in 2016, posting a significant increase of 26.5%.

            The bank’s net income increased as a result of higher operating revenues and expense control.

            Thus, total banking income grew by 15.3 percent to 717 million dinars, while expenses increased by only 8.8 percent to 356.8 million dinars.

            For this purpose, Net Banking Income (NBI) for the year was up 22.5% to 360.1 million dinars against 293.8 million a year earlier.

            Despite an additional provisioning effort (+ 30%) and staff costs up 12.8%, Amen Bank generated operating income of 127.8 million dinars, i.e. an increase of 28.2% over 2016.

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              Tunisia’s debt service rate in the first two years of 2018 has risen by 139%, while the stock of public debt has amounted to 68.8 billion dinars out of 76 billion TD reserved in the budget law 2018, according to the daily Al-Maghreb, citing documents from the Ministry of Finance.

              The external debt reached 67.4% and the domestic debt 32.6%, adds the same source.

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                Tunisian Tire Corporation (STIP)’s revenues in the first quarter of Q1-2018 posted a slight decrease of 3% compared to the same period in 2017.

                Overall sales rose from 11 million at the end of March 2017 to 10.7 million at March 31, i.e. a decrease of 3%, despite a 20.5% increase in local sales reaching 10.5 MD.

                Export turnover in Q1-2018 fell by 90.3% compared to the same period last year, to 229 thousand dinars against 2.3 million in 2017.

                Volume production fell by 57% to 1,050 tons from 2,445 tons a year earlier.

                As for the debt, the company disclosed the amount of bank commitments at the end of December 2017 which reached 205 million dinars.

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                Noureddine Taboubi, S-G of the UGTT said recently on a private radio that 70% of taxes are paid by employees and the remaining 30% come from oil companies, insurance and telephone operators.

                He also claimed that the rest of the economic enterprises, including doctors, lawyers and even journalists, only paid the remaining 5%.

                Speaking the following day, on the private radio, Taboubi who was stung by the comments of the columnists of the RTCN while he was driving, repeated stating that he spoke “in a clear scientific framework”, that 70% of the country’s tax revenues come from employees, 90% of the remaining 30% are paid by 5% of companies that are oil companies, banks, insurance, telecommunications.

                This tale of wage earners who would pay more taxes than any other Tunisian taxpayers is not new. It is found in all the elements of speech of the S-G of the powerful Tunisian trade union, every time he starts the negotiation campaign for new wage increases.

                The truth is however quite different and Taboubi takes plays fast and loose in the explanation.

                3.2 million employees, compared with 158 thousand LP (legal person) taxpayers

                According to figures from official sources at the Ministry of Finance, the country would have some 2.3 million taxpayer employees in both sectors, public (including 630,000 civil servants) and private, whose taxes are directly withheld at source.

                Let us also specify the rest of taxpayers, all professions combined, they are exactly 785,000 people, including 627,000 individuals, all trades combined, and 158,000 legal persons (LP) or companies…

                All that said, state resources in direct taxes for the year 2017 were set at 8.710 billion TD and will decrease by 3.6% in 2018.

                In this figure, the income tax was 6.119 billion TD in 2017 and will be down 3.1% in 2018.

                In this total of the income tax, the wage tax was 3.968 billion DT for 3.2 million employees, hence the effect of the 70% that remains to be specified. It is not the amount that should be kept in mind, but the volume of employees.

                A small calculator operation to divide the amount of 3,968 MD from payroll taxes by the total number of employees which is 3.2 million, would give roughly an annual tax of 1,240 TD per employee.

                Who pays the most taxes?

                The corporate tax has brought to the state 2,581.6 MD in 2017. To divide by 158,000 legal persons that are the companies, all sizes and sectors combined, we reach an average of a little more than 16,339 TD per legal person, knowing that the industrial companies which are the biggest employers are only 79.250 according to the INS.

                On average, businesses pay more taxes than employees. It should be remembered that in addition to corporate tax, business owners also pay income tax.

                And to deduct the total of the wage tax (3.968 billion TD) from the total of the income tax (6.119 billion DT); one realizes the bad reading of the figures by the SG of the UGTT.

                In 2017, the tax on oil companies yielded only 740 MD as a result of strikes and other social movements, still supported by the UGTT, which impacted their revenues.

                Companies, other than oil companies, including banks, insurance companies and others mentioned by the SG of the UGTT, paid a total tax of 1.841 billion in 2017, which is half of all what was earned from the wage tax.

                The numbers are stubborn things, as they say.

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                A busy man (44 years old exactly) and just 9 months at the head of the UIB, this énarque and economist who worked for 10 years at the General Inspection of “Société Générale”, is in fact an establishment figure of the UIB.

                He joined it in 2015 as the liquidity program director. A year later, he is already deputy CEO of the bank.

                This means that there are no secrets for him. This allows him, in July 2017, to become the CEO.

                With the good legacy left by his board chairman, Mondher Ghazali already has a clear roadmap.

                His ambition, of which he talks to AfricanManager, is to “continue over the coming years to increase our revenues at a steady pace, above 11% per year, to lower our cost / income ratio below 45% and to maintain a Return on Equity (RoE) level above 20%.”


                The bank has just closed the 2017 financial year with a growth in BNI and a net profit of 18.8%. What were globally the main moments and the levers of this growth?

                The results recorded in 2017 are the result of UBI’s sound and profitable growth strategy, based on a balanced model covering all markets of individuals, professionals and businesses, on rigorous management of costs and risks and on a strong priority given to the development of human capital. All of our businesses contribute to accelerating growth and good financial performance.

                With respect to retail banking, we have a leading position that we continue to consolidate with determination by expanding our network (5 new branch openings in 2017), by continually improving the customer experience and focusing on innovation, as is the case with our award-winning mobile application at the Tunisia Digital Awards 2017.

                In the corporate banking business, we are taking a new step each year, developing our Business Centers and capitalizing on our recognized expertise especially in Trade Finance, Cash Management, Structured Finance and supporting our clients in Africa.

                That expertise also feeds on our membership in a major international group and has been crowned by the 2018 award granted by Global Finance to the UIB as the best bank in Tunisia in international trade finance.

                How did the bank’s key ratios, including those of liquidity, risk and NPL, behave?

                All the regulatory ratios and thresholds provided for in the BCT circulars, whether the division and the risk coverage or the liquidity ratio, are respected by the UIB with a comfortable margin at 31 / 12/2017, and have been so throughout 2017.

                In particular, the rate of non-performing loans (NPL) declined significantly to 8.1% end of 2017 against 9.4% end of 2016, with a coverage rate of 77% (including reserved agios) which is among the best in the banking sector.

                On the other hand, the solvency ratio improved by more than 20 basis points to 11.13% and the Tier One ratio by 50 basis points to 8.1%, demonstrating the capacity of the UIB to generate, thanks to its profitability and the good control of its risks, the necessary capital to continue and accelerate further its development at the service of its customers and the economy.

                What is the degree of dependence of the UIB on the BCT on refinancing and injection of liquidity?

                With our broad base of customer deposits, which has one of the best growth in the sector, and our access in good conditions to the capital markets (interbank, bond and international lenders), our recourse to the refinancing of the BCT is remarkably limit.

                On an annual average, it does not exceed 1% of the size of our balance sheet or 0.5% of the total volume of intervention of the BCT.

                What is the bank’s position in financing the economy and in which niches in particular?

                At UIB, we put the financing of the economy and the support of the needs of our customers at the heart of our mission.

                With an annual increase of more than 800 MD, we position ourselves in 2017 as the 2nd private bank, by the additional volume of financing of the economy.

                That performance that reflects the good momentum of commercial conquest and the renewed confidence of our customers.

                With our balanced business model, covering all markets for individuals, professionals and businesses, these financings are highly diversified and we are gaining market share in all segments.

                As a long-time partner of large dynamic companies and a leading player in the retail market, the UIB is also paying close attention to the SME and professional markets, where we aim to double our outstanding credit over the next three years.

                Since the end of 2017 and throughout 2018, we have been organizing a large series of information and training days across the country for professionals and SMEs, in partnership with Proparco, to bring our services closer to our customers, improve their access to finance and advise them in their growth and investment strategies.

                The bank resumed paying dividends after a number of years of absence. Do you feel that the UIB has completed its restructuring and transformation, or are there still other steps to be taken?

                The UIB resumed the distribution of dividends in 2015 for the 2014 financial year and has continuously returned to its shareholders an increasing share of its recovered profitability.

                This was the signal that we have clearly turned a page by restructuring and adapting our balance sheet, our organization and our business and operational model, now totally customer-centric.

                We have put in place the foundations for a rigorous control of risks and costs, a prerequisite for any sustainable development process that is today an integral part of our corporate culture.

                The restructuring phase started in 2008 is behind us and the UIB has opened a new page in its history, a page of conquest and differentiation embodied in the ambitious objectives of our 2017-2020 strategic plan.

                That said, we consider that in a changing banking sector, transformation and adaptation are a permanent exercise and that the work must be continually put back on the job in order to continue to anticipate, in a quick and efficient way, the major changes in our environment, be they technological, regulatory, societal or environmental, and meet the new expectations of our various stakeholders.

                You have just taken the reins of the bank. What will be your roadmap?

                It is fully in line with the strategy of conquest and differentiation that we launched in early 2017 and which we are working in tandem with Mr. Kamel Néji, our Board Chairman. This strategy is articulated around 4 axes:

                Being a relational bank of reference in Tunisia recognized for its expertise and the commitment of its employees, giving its customers and the economy the international reach and the innovations of the Société Générale Group;

                – Continue the adaptation of our business model and the expansion of our offerings with a strategy of conquest in the markets of the Company and the high-end clientele, while strengthening our leadership in the individuals market with a market share 15%;

                – Constantly optimize our operating model in terms of quality, efficiency, risk control, compliance and innovation, thanks to the commitment of our employees and the opportunities offered by technological changes;

                – Pursue the development of our human capital by cultivating our talents and affirming the exemplarity of our managerial values and further disseminating our responsible, warm culture open on its environment.

                This roadmap should allow us to continue over the coming years to increase our revenues at a steady pace, above 11% per year, to lower our cost / income ratio below 45%, to maintain a level of ROE (Return on Equity) above 20% and to perpetuate the upward trend of the dividend paid to our shareholders.

                Above all, it aims to allow us to continue our rise in the list of Tunisian banks, to be the preferred bank in our markets and to continue to inspire pride and sense of commitment to our employees.

                The BCT has recently increased its key rate, thus impacting the cost of credit in general. Do you think this could impact the banking business in general and its results and those of the UIB in particular?

                The monetary policy tightening measures taken by the BCT at the end of December 2017 (widening of the corridor on either side of the key interest rate to 100 basis points) then beginning of March 2018 (rate increase by 75 basis points to 5.75%), are intended to curb the acceleration of inflation registered for several months.

                That mission is at the heart of the Central Bank’s mandate. They will reduce real interest rates, which were negative, to levels more in line with the phase of the economic cycle in which we find ourselves.

                Traditionally, the rate hike is rather favorable to the banks’ results. The impact on banking activity, however, will largely depend on the dynamics of these deposit-taking decisions.

                Because, we must not forget that the rise in rates was accompanied by an increase in the remuneration of savings.

                If this desirable movement – especially if it is supported by the measures favoring the “Decashing” of the economy – takes place, it will result in an improvement of the bank liquidity, a reduction of the intervention of the Central Bank and, in fine, a greater focus of banks on their intermediation role for the benefit of financing the economy.

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                  Hexabyte Company has just announced that its Board of Directors had met on March 26, 2018 and finalized the individual and consolidated financial statements for the 2017 financial year.

                  The past year has resulted in an individual net income of 1.19 million dinars, up 18%, and a consolidated net income of 1.1 million dinars, i.e. an increase of 8.55% over 2016.

                  In addition, the Board has decided to convene for Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 10:00 am at the IACE, the shareholders of the company at the Ordinary General Meeting and propose to distribute, for the 2017 financial year, a dividend of 0.350 dinar per share issue.

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