World Bank approves $500m loan for Tunisia

The World Bank has approved a new $500 million loan to support economic reforms in Tunisia, the state news agency said yesterday.

The loan is aimed at promoting private investment and creating opportunities for small businesses, while protecting vulnerable households and increasing energy security, TAP news agency said.

Tunisia has dropped into a deep economic slump following the overthrow in 2011 of autocratic leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

Although its successful democratic transition since then contrasts with other “Arab Spring” countries, nine governments have failed to cut the budget deficit and revive an economy hit by a lack of investment and militant attacks on tourists.

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Tunisia agreed with the IMF in December 2016 on a loan programme worth around $2.8 billion to overhaul its ailing economy with steps to cut chronic deficits and trim bloated public services, but progress has been slow.

Western governments, worried about high unemployment driving Tunisians into illegal migration or Islamist militancy, have strongly backed Tunis during the post 2011-transition even without much evidence of progress on economic reforms.

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