In this interview, Dr. Hakim Ben Hammouda describes the process of formulating the economic priorities of Tunisia’s caretaker cabinet under Prime Minister Medhi Jomaa. Ben Hammouda explains the decision to go beyond the limited scope of macroeconomic stabilization outlined in the government’s roadmap agreement to include other economic reforms and fiscal measures designed to promote investment and long-term growth of the Tunisian economy. In the process of designing and implementing these measures, Ben Hammouda places high importance on the ability of the cabinet staff to negotiate with political stakeholders and to bring the conversation to the public arena. Although the technocratic team succeeded in introducing all their outlined economic reforms to parliament by the end of their one year in office, Ben Hammouda details the difficulty the independent cabinet faced in securing political support for their initiatives, especially when the time came for members of parliament to start campaigning for reelection. Reflecting on the successes of the Jomaa caretaker cabinet, Ben Hammouda points to the security committee that enabled safe and credible elections to occur as well as to the transition reports prepared for the newly elected government by each department that enabled continuity of state and, in some cases, continuity of certain reform efforts.
Dr. Hakim Ben Hammouda served as the Minister of Economy and Finance under interim Prime Minister Medhi Jomaa from January 2014 to February 2015. Prior to his appointment to the independent, technocratic cabinet established to ensure credible elections, Ben Hammouda worked as special adviser to the president of the African Development Bank. He also worked in various capacities for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNCEA) from 2001 to 2008, serving as chief economist to the commission in his last two years there. From 2008 to 2011 he held the position of director of the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation at the World Trade Organization (WTO). He received his PhD in international economics from the University of Grenoble in France.