Third of Active Workforce Outside Formal Economy and Social Protection Programs

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Nearly two¬†million workers in Tunisia are outside, or 32.2% of the workforce in 2015, were employed in the informal economy and did not contribute to, or receive coverage from, social protection funds according to a report by the Centre for Research and Social Studies (CRES Centre de Recherches et d'Etudes Sociales) prepared in collaboration with the . The figure was announced at a conference on "Social Protection and the Informal Economy in Tunisia" on Monday May 23, attended by the Minister of Social Affairs . Minister Romdhane during statements during and after the conference said he had submitted a written request to Prime Minister Habib Essid and the Minister of Finance Slim Chaker, that a dedicated cabinet meeting be held on the issue, adding that the Ministry of Social Affairs has submitted a proposal to the , suggesting that business owners be required to present supporting documentation of their contributions to the National Social Security Fund in order to access public markets. Minister Romdhane stated during the conference that the contributions lost through and added health care costs incurred by untreated chronic diseases, as a result of the informal economy were two main factors pushing social protection funds in "unknown directions". The figure of 32.2% on the low end of an assessment by the World Bank in December of 2015 which estimated that "Among the working population, nearly 30-45 percent of the employed labor force either do not have contracts or do not contribute to social security." "In the poorest households, less than 20 percent of workers are in formal wage employment in the private or public sectors (depending heavily on agricultural and commercial self-employment), compared to 75 percent among the richest." Source: World Bank (2015). Towards a Job Strategy in Tunisia, as part of the Tunisia Systematic Country Diagnostic. Washington DC: World Bank