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Slowdown of Reforms Deprive Tunisia IMF Second Tranche | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Tunisia’s Finance Minister Lamia Zribi attends a meeting in Tunis, Tunisia January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

Tunisia – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) postponed the payment of a second tranche of a loan scheduled in 2016 due to lack of progress in reforms, according to Finance Minister Lamia Zribi. She added that Tunisia is likely to sell stakes in three state-owned banks this year as part of reforms demanded by the IMF.

Last June, the IMF released the first tranche of a loan worth $320 million and was expected to provide the second tranche worth $350 million but it froze and linked its final decision to the results of economic reforms.

A small ministerial meeting was held on Thursday by the three state-owned banks in Tunisia and was headed by the Tunisian Prime Minister Yusuf Shahed – the meeting discussed the progress of the restructuring program of state-owned banks.

Tunisia’s parliament approved in August 2015 the project to capitalize the three state-owned banks with TND757 million (USD300 million). The pumping of liquidity to banks was an attempt to rescue and restore the banks’ action and contribution in the funding of Tunisian economy.

However, results of this banking operation were not visible.

In 2016, the IMF approved to lend the Tunisian government USD2.8 billion for a condition that Tunisia implements a group of economic structural reforms on top of them reducing the number of employees in the public sector from 630,000 to 500,000 and dropping wages from 14.4% to 12.5% of the state budget.

Economists and financial experts in Tunisia expressed hope to get the second tranche of the loan but did not hide their concerns of the report of the IMF delegation that visited Tunisia since it had bad indicators of Tunisian authorities not complying with the structural reforms program agreed upon between the two parties.