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Minister: Tunisia Received Loans Worth $5.3 Billion in 4 Years

Minister: Tunisia Received Loans Worth $5.3 Billion in 4 Years

Saturday, 19 January, 2019 - 11:15
A gas station attendant pumps fuel into a customer's car at a gas station in Tunis, Tunisia June 01, 2018. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
Tunis – Mongi Saidani
Tunisia’s Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation Ziad Ladhari denied that the country had received up to $13.5 billion of loans between 2014 and 2018, saying the number was much lower than thought.

During parliamentary discussions on the approval of new loans set to fund the 2019 budget, the minister said that only $5.3-billion-worth of loans had been disbursed to Tunisia during that period.

Replying to the criticism of several lawmakers on the country’s borrowing policies, Ladhari said: “The government is compelled to borrow.”

“There is a difference between borrowing and agreements signed with several international lenders,” said the minister.

He stressed that the government has not crossed the external borrowing ceiling, warning that the implementation of development programs could take a negative turn if borrowing was limited.

According to the budget, Tunisia needs this year around loans worth $3.4 billion, including $2.6 billion to be borrowed from abroad.

The 2019 budget is estimated at $13.6 billion, compared to $12.6 billion last year, marking an 8% rise.

The parliament has approved the new budget despite an unprecedented increase in the trade deficit, growing internal and external debts and a slide in foreign currency reserves.

The government is working on cutting this year’s budget deficit to 3.9% percent.

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