Billion-dollar pledges to boost Tunisian economy

Heads of states, prime ministers and presidents of international financial institutions voiced  support to Tunisia bringing its young democratic experience to a conclusive end in a region that is living through major changes.

They announced on Tuesday at the opening of the international investment conference “Tunisia 2020” significant financial assistance to Tunisia under donations and loans.

Foreign stakeholders and guests of “Tunisia 2020” commended the efforts made by Tunisia to counter terrorism and violence, arguing that the country can achieve success of its democratic model  that requires all the institutional and financial support.

They further welcomed at the opening of the conference the freedom of opinion and expression prevailing in Tunisia as well as the role of civil society, calling on the country to carry on its economic and political reforms.

Gulf Arab states, France and international institutions stepped in with billions of dollars in aid for Tunisia, as the birthplace of the Arab Spring tapped investors to revive a stalling economy yet to recover from major terrorist attacks.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will give Tunisia $800 million (around 1,760 million Tunisian dinars).

Vice-President of the Saudi Fund for Development Youssef Bassem said at the international investment conference “Tunisia 2020″ a $100 million (220 MTD) donation will be divided between $58 million (187 MTD) to build a local hospital in Kairouan and $15 million (33 MTD) to restore Okba Ibn Nafaa mosque and Kairouan’s medina.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has allocated $500 million (1,110 MTD) under loans with favourable terms to develop projects in Tunisia in addition to $200 million (440 MTD) to boost Tunisian exports.

Qatar will grant $1.25 billion (2,750 MTD). Qatari Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani set the tone on the first day of a two-day investment conference in the capital, Tunis, pledging $1.25 billion.

Al Thani hailed the conference as “an example of what the international community should do to help promising experiences, instead of holding discussions after disasters happen.” Tunisia’s democracy is based on respect for diversity and human rights, he said.

Kuwait’s deputy prime minister said his oil-rich nation would offer soft loans of $500 million over the next five years.

The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development said it would provide loans worth $1.5 billion through 2020. Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Nurettin Canikli, pledged $100 million in exempt bank credits.

Help came from other quarters, as well, with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announcing that the French development agency would channel 250 million euros annually for five years into Tunisia. The European Investment Bank’s chief, Werner Hoyer, said the EIB “will aim to reach total new commitments of up to 2.5 billion euros between now and 2020.”

President Beji Caid Essebsi told the world leaders, international financial institutions and company chiefs that his North African nation faced an “exceptional situation and needed exceptional support  from its partners and international financial institutions, a support that goes beyond the traditional framework and which was provided to some countries that went through a transition.”


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