March 19, 2019 / 8:22 AM / 4 months ago

IMF mission to visit Tunisia next week to discuss fifth review of loan

TUNIS, March 19 (Reuters) - An International Monetary Fund mission will visit Tunisia on March 27 to discuss the fifth review of a loan programme with the country, Minister of Economic Reform Tawfik Rajhi said on Tuesday.

The visit comes two months after the government raised the wages of about 670,000 public employees, a decision the IMF had discouraged in order to cut Tunisia’s budget deficit.

“The IMF mission will visit Tunisia from March 27 to April 9 for discussions on the fifth review of the loan program,” Rajhi told Reuters.

Tunisia struck a deal struck with the IMF in December 2016 for a loan program worth around $2.8 billion to overhaul its ailing economy. It included steps to cut chronic deficits and trim bloated public services, but progress has been slow.

Tunisia has so far received $ 1.4 billion of the total loan.

The North African country has been hailed as the Arab Spring’s only democratic success because protests toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 without triggering violent upheaval, as happened in Syria and Libya.

But since 2011, nine cabinets have failed to resolve Tunisia’s economic problems, which include high inflation and unemployment, and impatience is rising among lenders like the IMF, which have kept the country afloat. (Reporting By Tarek Amara, editing by Larry King)

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