World Bank to loan Tunisia $250 million

Provide financial support for macro-economic stabilisation

TUNIS - The World Bank announced Monday it will loan Tunisia $250 million in support of key reforms in a country that is still suffering economic fallout from the 2011 revolution.
The loan "focuses on laying the foundations for a competitive economy to create more and better jobs for the Tunisian people and provide financial support for macro-economic stabilisation," the bank said in a statement.
Tunisia's economy suffered greatly from instability that followed the 2011 revolution that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Its vital tourism sector plummeted before rebounding slowly, and the country remains plagued by social conflict fuelled by poverty and high unemployment.
"This loan is an effort... to assist Tunisia in creating the conditions for the social and economic changes that Tunisians took to the streets for," said Simon Gray, World Bank country director for the Maghreb.
"If sustained, these reforms will not only address immediate concerns, but will also have a positive impact on growth and employment creation in the medium term," he said in the statement.
The Tunisian government said public finances were anaemic, and that it had to resort to "extraordinary measures" to cover salaries in April.
Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa has admitted the need for unpopular reforms in a country where government jobs account for a third of the state budget.
The World Bank already approved a $100 million (72 million euro) loan earlier in April to help small and medium sized businesses, seen as crucial to the recovery of the private sector.
In January, the International Monetary Fund released more than $500 million, part of a $1.76 billion loan to support Tunisia, shortly after a new technocratic government was sworn in under a deal to end months of political instability.