Members of the Tunisian government have been accused of lobbying the interests of plastics producers, implying a new corruption scandal over the decision to use plastic bags instead of paper packaging to transport cement. At the same time, this decision runs counter to state priorities in the field of environmental protection, according to the opposition.
Member of Parliament Yassine Ayari raised the issue of corruption ties to the decision, saying that the government’s decision to revert to using plastic bags to transport cement «comes to serve the interests of a businessman who owns a plastics industry. The businessman also funded the election campaign of the Minister of state in charge of the civil service, governance and the fight against corruption, as well as the leader of the Democratic Current party, Mohammed Abbu», Erem news reports.
On August 18, MP for the Hope and Work movement, Yassin Ayari, published a post on his official Facebook page, in which he announced the involvement of Minister Mohammad Abbu, along with Minister of Trade Mohammad Messellini, in the case of conflict of interests and serving a plastic bag lobby in Tunisia».
Referring to the publication of the Intelligence Africa news channel, Ayari explained that, after doing some research and checking, he noticed the involvement of a plastic businessman Nasr Ali Shaqroun in financing the election campaign of the leader of the Democratic Сurrent and Minister of State Mohammed Abbu.
He revealed that «Shaqroun owns the S3 company, and that the current Minister of Industry, Saleh Bin Yusuf, who issued the order regarding packing cement in plastic bags instead of paper bags, owns shares in this company».
In response to Ayari’s accusations, the Democratic Current party published a statement on its official Facebook page, in which he confirmed that published materials was nothing but «fallacies», and confirmed that he would sue MP Yassine Ayari.
The party stressed in its statement, «its constant insistence on fighting the corrupt individuals without exception, regardless of their affiliations, not bothering any confusion emanating from the money launderers and their assistants».
For his part, Minister of Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises Saleh bin Yusuf said that before making the decision to use plastic bags, his ministry carried out the necessary studies and listened to the various parties from the trade union chamber, the two cement companies concerned and the environmental departments.
The minister stated that the decision does not eliminate the use of paper bags, considering that it «expanded competition to include plastic bags», stressing that «it is about reusable bags».
But the representative of the «Long Live Tunisia» movement, Marouane Fellval, considered that «the minister is not concerned with the health of Tunisians, and what he has done goes beyond every reasonable idea at a time when the world is seeking to reduce the use of plastic».
In an interview with local radio Express, Fellfall noted that the minister’s insistence on creating a Tunisian market with 150 million plastic bags a year at this time is suspicious.
– I followed Minister Saleh bin Yusuf’s response this morning, and he spoke about things that are not within his competence, as if he was a commercial representative of a plastic bags company, and Article 45 of the constitution says that the state must guarantee the right to a healthy environment, and his decision set us back light years, – stated Fellfall.
According to the Valval, neither the Minister of Environment nor the National Agency for the Protection to the Ocean, give permission, and that means that the Minister should be accused of corruption and belittling of health of the Tunisians and their right to a healthy environment.