Although Tunisia has the resources to cover its financial needs, it is seeking additional funds to protect its budget from external shocks that could threaten the government’s economic recovery program.
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission visited Tunisia from January 15 to February 1 to discuss a Precautionary Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) of up to $1.78 billion in financial aid, which would safeguard the country’s macroeconomic stability in the event of a crisis.
The talks over the SBA “are at an advanced stage,” said Amine Mati, head of the IMF mission, in a press statement. The mission plans to continue working with Tunisian officials to finalize the SBA in March.
In 2012, Tunisia’s government recorded solid revenue performance and secured budget support loans from the European Union, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank. These sources as well as new ones identified for 2013 meet the budgetary requirements of the country’s economic program to achieve regional development and reduce unemployment, Mati said.
But he said the SBA is taking precautions due to “exogenous shocks that could come from the global environment.”
The Eurozone crisis, for example, has hurt Tunisian exports to its main trading partners — Italy, Germany, and France — with the country’s trade deficit increasing by 35%.
During the visit, the mission met with all stakeholders in Tunisia’s economic recovery, including members of the National Constituent Assembly, political parties, representatives from the private and financial sectors, trade unions, civil society, and Central Bank officials.