The Tunisian government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have finalized the details of a long-discussed loan accord.
IMF director Christine Lagarde issued a statement on Friday announcing that a 24-month stand-by agreement (SBA) totaling $1.75 billion has been negotiated and will be put before the IMF’s Executive Board to be formally approved. The board should consider the request in May at its next meeting.
Critics of the deal have accused the IMF of forcing economic policy decisions on Tunisia and infringing on its sovereignty, but Lagarde’s statement asserted that the deal advances existing reform decisions and economic policies already instituted by the Tunisian government.
“The SBA, once approved by the Executive Board, would support the authorities’ economic agenda aimed at preserving fiscal and external stability, fostering higher and more inclusive growth, and addressing critical vulnerabilities of the banking sector,” Lagarde’s statement continued.
A Central Bank source told Tunisia Live last week that the IMF has not asked Tunisia to undertake specific reforms.
The deal is not a straight-forward loan, but rather a pool of money provided by the IMF that Tunisia could access in case of an economic emergency. The money could not obtained in one lump sum, the Central Bank source said, but would rather be accessed in installments as needed.
The agreement is a “precautionary measure to help support the country during the transition period and, if need be, cope with exogenous shocks that could come from the global environment,” according to an IMF statement released in February.
The government has asserted that it does not anticipate using the stand-by funds.
Lobma Jribi, a member of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) subcommittee on finance and member of the Ettakatol party, told Tunisia Live earlier this month that the NCA will approve the agreement after it is signed by the government.