A 9 January report from the IMF indicates that in some ways Tunisia has been going in the wrong direction – making it ever more difficult for the government to change course. Governments of recent years have repeatedly spoken of the need to promote private sector growth – almost every loan from multilaterals such as the EBRD  has flagged up “boosting SMEs” as a key objective.

But this would require long-term reform. The evidence suggests that successive Tunisian...