IMF delegation in Tunisia for reform talks -official

A delegation from the International Monetary Fund arrived in Tunisia on Friday for talks on accelerating the North African country’s economic reforms, after postponing payment of a second tranche of $350 million from a $2.8 billion loan.

The IMF put back the payment scheduled last December citing a lack of progress in reforms, including the public sector wage bill, public finances and state banks, Finance Minister Lamia Zribi said earlier this year.

Six years after its 2011 pro-democracy uprising, Tunisia is seeking to revive its economy but is struggling in the aftermath of the deadly attacks in 2015 by Islamist militants that hit the tourism industry, a major source of jobs and revenue.

“The IMF delegation started a visit today to urge Tunisia to accelerate the stalled reforms,” a government official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

The source said the IMF delegation would meet UGTT union leaders to discuss their reservations about some reforms, including the possibility of selling shares in public banks.

Tunisia expects that the IMF will release the second payment after this visit, the government official said.

Tunisia is likely to sell stakes in three state-owned banks and cut up to 10,000 public sector jobs as part of the reforms. Attempts to push through change have been held up by political infighting and concern over protests.

Officials say the release of the next part of the loan will help Tunisia to access further credit from international lenders including the World Bank, the European Union and the African Development Bank.


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