Speaking today at his office in the bank's concrete bunker-like headquarters in central Tunis, Ayari said he was sanguine about the fiscal deficit of 6.6 percent of gross domestic product that the government ran this year. That's up from last year and is in part the result of about 4.5 percent of GDP worth of cash, fuel and food subsidies handed out since the 2011 revolution to cushion the shock to living standards.
With growth expected to rebound to 3 percent this year (after a 2.5 percent fall in 2011), the deficit is manageable he says -- for now. "We at the central bank are not very happy when we see the deficit shooting up, or when we see inflation going up," said Ayari, who was economy minister under Tunisia's first post-independence leader, Habib Bourguiba. After the transitional period, meaning later next year, Ayari said he'll have to look again.
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