Some Tunisian shops are rationing goods including oil, sugar and butter, while long queues have formed at gas stations due to fuel shortages as the government grapples with a public finance crisis.
Some grocery stores limited shoppers to single packs of scarce goods, while queues at gas stations blocked traffic in some parts of the capital.
President Qais Said and his government have not commented on the shortages, except to announce their intention to target speculators and hoarders. However, on Friday, Said fired the head of the Tunisian oil distribution company.
The government sells many imported goods at heavily subsidized rates, and global commodity pressures have pushed up international prices.
This summer, the government received two tranches of international aid from the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to finance grain purchases, but is also seeking help from the IMF to finance the budget and pay off debt.
“There is no oil, no sugar, no butter, and there is a huge shortage of biscuits and snacks,” said Azzouz, a shop owner in the working-class Etadamon district of Tunis.
Khadija, a woman shopping in the same area, said she could not find subsidized cooking oil and could not afford other brands.
“The situation is getting more difficult every day and we don’t know what we are going to do,” she said.
Even early Friday morning, there were queues at a gas station in the La Marsa district of Tunis, including cars parked along the highway in the oncoming lane.
Silvan al-Samiri, an official with the UGTT petrol workers union, told IFM radio on Thursday that the government must find a solution to pay for the imports.
President Said has barely revealed his economic policies since seizing majority power in July 2021 in a move his enemies call a coup, except for public statements criticizing corruption and speculators.