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Tunisia Receives USD 400m from IMF to Combat Coronavirus

Tunisia Receives USD 400m from IMF to Combat Coronavirus

Tuesday, 24 March, 2020 - 09:45
Empty streets in downtown Tunis, Tunisia, March 22, 2020. © Reuters / Zoubeir Souissi
Tunis- Al Mongi Al Saidani

Tunisia's Finance Minister Nizar Yaich said on Monday that the International Monetary Fund will loan the country USD400 million to help it limit the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

He told Express fm that the disbursement, which is separate to the country’s ongoing IMF loan program, will take place in the next three weeks, without giving more details.

Tunisia has confirmed 75 cases of the disease, which is also expected to hit the North African country’s tourism sector, accounting for about 10% of its economic output.

Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said on Saturday that the government is allocating $850 million to combat the economic and social effects of the crisis.

Among new measures, it will delay the collection of tax debts, postpone tax collection on small- and medium-sized businesses, delay repayment schedules for low-income employee loans and provide financial assistance to poor families.

Yaich said that the recent big drop in oil prices had helped save Tunisia about 800 million dinars ($270 million).

Furthermore, Tunisia's Former Minister of Economy Hakim Ben Hammouda said that the government could rely on some solutions such as preparing a corrective financial law and approving it promptly. The government would also reconsider the state’s expenses, and incomes to direct them to address health, social, and economic repercussions of this crisis.

Further, Ben Hammouda urged the government to prepare necessary studies and mobilize international funding structures in order to benefit from the funding made by huge financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank. He also suggested postponing the disbursement of debts from international financial intuitions and bilateral debts with other countries for one year.

On Friday, Tunisia’s president ordered a general lockdown, limiting citizens’ free movement in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The country’s IMF loan program expires in April and the new government, formed in February after months of political wrangling following an October election, has said it is discussing renewing it. ($1 = 2.9464 Tunisian dinars)

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