April 10, 2018 / 1:29 PM / 9 days ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Tunisia seeks to recover $2.72 billion of bad loans

(To correct word in paragraph 5)

TUNIS, April 10 (Reuters) - Tunisia plans to recover 6.5 billion dinars ($2.72 billion) of bad loans in three public banks as part of its banking reforms, the minister of economic reforms told Reuters on Tuesday.

Banking reform was required by the International Monetary Fund which it agreed in 2016 to assist Tunisia with a four-year loan programme worth about $2.8 billion.

In 2015, the government injected $400 million to re-capitalise struggling state lenders Societe Tunisienne de Banque (STB), Banque Nationale Agricole (BNA) and Bank de l’Habitat(BH).

“We started to reform public banks through new plans for good governance, then we raised their capital, and now we are trying to improve the performance and by seeking to recover bad loans amounting to 6.5 billions dinar,” Taoufik Rajhi, minister of economic reforms, told Reuters.

“The government has sent a bill to the parliament to give banks legal tools to recover bad loans such as the possibility of canceling the delay penalities and give these banks the right of reconciliation with clients,” he said.

A committee will be set up to monitor this work, which will include five lawmakers.

The North African country is in the midst of an economic slump and under pressure from foreign donors to cut a bloated public payroll and a budget deficit.

Tourism revenue has recovered in recent months after suffering attacks by Islamist militants in 2015, but economic growth remains weak. Investors continue to avoid Tunisia, which has been in turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled its long-time ruler, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

$1 = 2.3916 Tunisian dinars Reporting By Tarek Amara Editing by Larry King

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