Tunisian experts say food essentials such as sugar, vegetable oil, rice, and bottled water, have long been subsidized, but recently are increasingly available only in rations to the public.
Experts add the shortage of essentials is skyrocketing the prices for goods, which is leaving many unable to pay the staggering food prices.
Amina Hamdi, a 63-year-old Tunisian, said people are struggling to survive with the high prices.
“I came to shop and found people fighting to buy and the prices were very high,” said Hamdi.
Aicha, another Tunisian who spoke to media while shopping, and only gave her first name out of fear of persecution by police for speaking out, called on authorities to address the high prices.
“It is not possible to live without food,” said Aicha, adding, “We can live without furniture, construction material, but we have to eat.”
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied attributes the shortages and the rise in prices to “speculators” and those who hold a monopoly on goods that are stored in illegal depots.
Said also suggested that his main political rivals, the Islamist movement Ennahdha, has a role to play in the shortages, however Ennahdha officials firmly deny the allegations.
Officials of the Tunisian General Labor Union, a powerful trade union in the north African nation, say the state’s budget is overburdened which is triggering the food crisis.
President Kais Saied’s administration is in the process of negotiating a $2 billion - $4 billion loan with the International Monetary Fund, which will allow the north African nation to better cooperate with a budget deficit that was aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.