France continues to support Tunisia, lends 135 million euros to finance projects

France has agreed to lend Tunisia 135 million euros ($143 million) to finance two infrastructure projects, Tunisia’s prime minister said on Friday.

“France will finance two projects, the first worth 60 million euros and another with 75 million euros,” Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said at a news conference with French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve in Tunis.

The French Development Agency (AFD) will finance a project to expand the potable water network and will fund a metro project.

France, one of Tunisia’s biggest economic partners, will also convert 35 million euros of debt into investment after an operation last year to convert Tunisian debt worth 60 million euros, the French Prime Minister said.

Cazeneuve said France would continue to support Tunisia after it launched “courageous economic reforms” and called on foreign tourists to visit Tunisia to help revive an economy struggling after deadly attacks on tourists in 2015 by Islamist militants.

In this respect, six partnership agreements were inked Friday in Tunis between Tunisia and France.

The first two agreements consist in two declarations of intent: The first stipulates the conversion of Euro 30 million of the Tunisian debt into development projects, while the second provides for sharing expertise in fight against radicalisation.

According to the first declaration of intent, 20 millions of Tunisian debts will be allocated to financing the Gafsa new regional hospital.

France devoted Euro 60 million of debts to fund this hospital, by virtue of a conversion agreement signed in 2016.

The remaining Euro 10 million will be invested in education, higher education and vocational training.

Aimed at preventing radicalisation, the second declaration of intent provides for sharing approaches, experiences and good practices in matters of radicalisation prevention and taking care of vulnerable persons.

It also stipulates the reporting of radicalised persons, particularly in prisons, and of any return of persons from combat zones.

The four other agreements provide for the financing by the French Development Agency (AFD) of development projects in Tunisia in the transport and hydraulic sectors, by means of over Euro 135 million.

The first agreement regards a sovereign loan of Euro 60 million for the reinfrocement of the drinking water supply system in Cap Bon, the Sahel and Sfax.

It will help finance the reinforcement of water transfer infrastructures between the northern regions of Tunisia and those of the Sahel (extending from the Gulf of Hammamet in the north, to Chebba/Gabes in the south) and create a treatment plant, with a view to meeting the needs of the governorates of Nabeul, Monastir, Sousse, Mahdia and Sfax in drinking water by 2030.

The second agreement provides for a sovereign loan of Euro 60 million for fitting up the Central Loop of the Tunis metro, while the third stipulates a subsidy of Euro 650 thousand dedicated to the Barcelona square interchange station.

As for the fourth agreement, it stipulates the financing of a Study and Capacity Building Fund in support to the Tunisian five-year development plan by means of a Euro 725-thousand grant.

This fund is the fifth of the same kind set up by AFD for the benefit of Tunisia.

It will help fund studies and expertise by the Development, Investment and International Co-operation Ministry over a four-year period.


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