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IMF Mission to Visit Tunisia to Discuss Loan Program

IMF Mission to Visit Tunisia to Discuss Loan Program

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019 - 15:45
Tunis-Carthage International Airport in Tunis, Tunisia, December 25, 2017. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo
Tunis- Asharq Al-Awsat
An International Monetary Fund mission will visit Tunisia on March 27 for two weeks to discuss the fifth review of a loan program with the country, Tunisia's reform minister Tawfiq al-Rajhi told Reuters on Tuesday.

“The IMF mission will visit Tunisia from March 27 to April 9 for discussions on the fifth review of the loan program,” Rajhi said.

The visit comes two months after the government raised the wages of about 670,000 public employees, a decision the IMF had discouraged in order to cut Tunisia’s budget deficit.

Tunisia struck a deal struck with the IMF in December 2016 for a loan program worth around USD2.8 billion to overhaul its ailing economy. Tunisia has so far received USD1.4 billion of the total loan.

Last month, Tunisian Central Bank Governor Marwan Abbasi described the condition as tough and dangerous, clarifying that IMF is still watching the steps to be taken by Tunisia.

Abbasi defended the central bank’s increase of interest rate last month, saying that this step came to clamp down inflation pressures and to provide more liquidity that brings more stability to the banking system.

The current account deficit of the external payments balance hits records in 2018 to 11.2 percent of the GDP, against 10.2 percent in 2017. The foreign currency dropped to 84 days of import in 2018, compared with 93 days a year earlier.

In 2016, the IMF granted EUR2.4 billion loan in exchange for pledges to impose austere economic reforms.

According to a report published two weeks ago by the IMF, Tunisia's GDP per capita between 2013 and 2017 was 0.4 percent while Morocco’s was 0.7 percent. Algeria’s GDP per capita amounted to one percent, Mauritania was 1.1 percent and Libya scored the highest at 28.5 percent.

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