The Official Gazette noted that Tunisian President Kais Saied issued a decree on Monday that offers amnesty to businessmen involved in corruption cases if they invest money in government projects, in a measure that aims to recover some five billion dollars.
He issued another decree imposing harsh prison sentences for those who hoard or monopolize assets at a time when Tunisians face shortages of some basic goods.
The Tunisian president is focused on combating corruption and market speculators, and has promised to recover money he says was stolen from the state.
According to the text of the first decree, Saeed will appoint a reconciliation committee made up of judges to consider granting amnesty to businessmen in exchange for implementing development projects in poor areas.
The president said 460 people stole some 14 billion dinars ($4.8 billion) from Tunisia and offered a “criminal deal” if they returned the money rather than face trial and jail.
Saeed, a former law professor, took office in 2019 with a campaign focused on fighting corruption and the old political elite.
Tunisia is suffering the worst financial crisis in its history, which has been exacerbated by the lack of external financing from its Western partners, who ask Said for an inclusive dialogue that brings together all parties to restore the democratic path.
Credit rating agency Fitch downgraded Tunisia’s sovereign debt rating to junk on Friday, saying it believed the government would default on loans. (dollar = 2.9450 Tunisian dinars)