Tunisia has agreed an economic reform program with the IMF, a pre-requisite to completing the first review of a four-year $2.9bn IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF) approved last May (MEES, 27 May 2016). Tunisia mission chief Bjorn Rother says the deal, which still needs the approval of the IMF’s Executive Board, will open the way for the disbursement of a second tranche of $308mn of the EFF, which together with the first tranche of $319.5mn, will raise total disbursements to Tunisia to $627.5mn.

As Mr Rother notes, Tunisia’s economy faces major challenges, as “fiscal and external deficits reached record levels, the wage bill as a percentage of GDP has climbed to one of the highest in the world, and public debt further increased to 63% of GDP at the end of 2016.” He went on to say that growth in 2017 is expected to double to 2.3%, but will remain too low to reduce unemployment. Youth unemployment according to earlier IMF figures, has hit 35%, rising to 67% for recent graduates (MEES, 17 February). (CONTINUED - 771 WORDS)