18 enero, 2022
Finance Law 2022, fundamental aspects
18 enero, 2022
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The new political course begins in Algeria and in the economic field it seems to present a promising outlook thanks to the increase in the prices of hydrocarbons that have led to a spectacular increase in exports and the recovery of the foreign exchange reserve according to the government.

In this context, the government’s analysis is optimistic and predicts a hopeful future, with a growth rate in 2021 of more than 6% (although lower than the inflation that some sources place at 9.2%), led by hydrocarbons, which grow by 12% in volume and 60% in value. The behavior of exports outside hydrocarbons is even more spectacular: a growth compared to 2020 of 160%, to reach the record figure of 5,000 MMUSD, never known since the independence of the country.

The executive blames the restrictive measures on imports (D.E. 21-94 of 09/03/2021, the Finance Law 2022 with a new tax of 2%, restrictions on payments in foreign currency, absence of credit, bureaucratic blockade, …) the reduction of the trade deficit, which registered a trade surplus of 1,000 MMDZD. But they are not linked to the scarcity of products on the domestic market and the galloping inflation. Significant statements by the Minister of Commerce Mr. REZIG Kamel in December, announcing the blockade of 1,534 importers who had not fulfilled the requirements of D.E. 21-94. In this line, on 20/12/2021, president TEBOUNE announced a revision of the «Code de Commerce» of foreseeable orientation.

The public sector is a fixture in the pools, amid the recurrent rumours of the opening of the industrial public sector to private capital, at the beginning of December the Minister of Industry, Mr. Bendif Hocine declared that «Algeria has fifty public companies stopped», some of them as a result of import restrictions affecting their industrial supplies.

The state ownership of the land «Foncier», is another recurring issue, last December the prime minister recognized that «14,700 plots attributed had not been exploited», the annulment of numerous concessions of industrial and agricultural land is a permanent issue, along with allegations of corruption and numerous related abuses. In 2021, the creation of «a new public entity for the promotion of state land» is announced, which among its missions will have those of reducing bureaucracy!!. In 2019, the state industrial land management agency ANIREF had already ceded its powers to the wilayas in the chaotic management and promotion of new industrial estates, a failed star policy of the last Bouteflika governments.

In the agricultural field, the situation is similar to that of the industrial sector: generalized rise in prices and shortages of many products, in particular table oil, which are attributed to «speculation», while in December the Minister of Agriculture Mr. HENNI Abdelhafidh announced a new revision of the list of imported agricultural products:  restrictive intervention with foreseeable effects. Given the scarcity of product, the increase in prices and the failure of public land concession policies, the creation of a «High Agricultural Council» is advocated, to «control, encourage, ensure, improve, …..» … and reduce bureaucracy!!!!

Virtually suppressed since 2015 with the collapse of the price of hydrocarbons, public investment has been the economic engine of Algeria. Promised since his inauguration by Prime Minister M. Benabderrahmane, the activation of the 402 investment projects in progress and today paralyzed, before the end of 2021 has not yet become a reality. It seems that the recovery of hydrocarbon exports and foreign exchange reserves would allow a relaunch of this decisive engine of activity in Algeria. In this context, the creation of a new official electronic portal dedicated to public procurement was announced.

Another fixture of the economic debate is the «attraction» of foreign investment. In December, an ambitious legal project to boost free zones was announced. This debate has been on the table for more than 20 years, with continuous advances and setbacks, promulgation of legal provisions that are later annulled (see the case of the Z.F. de Bellara), which have only contributed to creating an environment of legal uncertainty. Aimed at export-oriented foreign direct investment (FDI), this old issue promoted by the Ministry of Commerce with direct patronage of the prime minister returns.

In this scenario, the prime minister «sold» in Dubai (Expo-2021 Dubai in November 2021) «the attractions of the Algerian market to local investors» while announcing a «new» Investment Law, the most highlighted by the minister, the repeal of rule 49/51, which dates from 2020!!, norm that was defended during its 10 years of validity,  as a «guarantee for foreign investors»… we will have to assume that, at this point, 10 years have also been lost….

In short, good expectations in general, although most analyses and proposals sound «old». Let us hope that this time the realities will live up to expectations and the recovery of hydrocarbon exports will be used in the necessary relaunch of the Algerian economy and not so much in giving oxygen to the old failed policies.

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