8 December 1992: Creation of the National Solidarity Fund (Fond de Solidarité Nationale – FSN)

Tuesday, December 8, 1992

Following the unexpected visits of President Ben Ali to remote regions and disadvantaged neighbourhoods of the country (the so-called “shadow areas” by the official regime rhetoric), a special treasure fund was created to fight poverty. The official objectives of the fund were to open up these areas by improving the living conditions of their inhabitants through the financing of income-generating projects and the development of water and electricity infrastructures (Hibou 2006). Law No. 92-122, passed on 29 December 1992 stated that “the various interventions [are] decided by the Head of State” and therefore are not subject to any parliamentary control.” The FSN fund was then supplemented by the Tunisian Solidarity Bank (Banque Tunisienne de Solidarité – BTS) created in 1998 to finance state-led solidarity projects. The FSN was in part fed by the donations of Tunisian citizens and companies managed by the local cells of the state-party (the Ben Ali-led Democratic Constitutional Rally – DCR) and was equivalent to a mandatory solidarity tax. By channelling the practices of charity, it was an instrument of Ben Ali’s centralised regime to tighten its control over the population (Hibou 2015).