Tunisia makes $500 million from assets of ousted president
TUNIS - Tunisia has made nearly half a billion dollars from the sale of assets confiscated from ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his allies, a minister said Wednesday.
In the months following Ben Ali's flight to Saudi Arabia after the January 2011 revolution that ended his rule, the cash-strapped country seized hundreds of businesses, properties, luxury cars and jewellery belonging to him, his family and his allies.
"Since 2011, we made around 1.5 billion dinars (of which) around 1 billion ($500 million, 442 million euros) went into the state's coffers," Finance Minister Slim Chaker said.
"The other 500 million dirhams went to paying off debts," he said.
Revenues from the sales have boosted the national budget and allowed the state to borrow less, he added, but the process is slow.
Only some assets have been sold off so far, including at an auction at the end of 2012.
Obstacles to selling the remaining assets include organising paperwork, expert assessments and calls for tenders, the minister said.
"There were lots of cars we didn't have the keys for, and that are still registered in the names of their previous owners," he said.
Nepotism and state corruption plagued Ben Ali's rule and triggered his fall at the start of the Arab Spring uprisings.