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Central Bank of Tunisia: ‘Our economic situation is the most difficult ever’

May 22, 2021 at 10:35 am

A man retrieves cash from an ATM in the capital Tunis, Tunisia on March 27, 2020 [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

Governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia Marwan Al-Abbasi on Friday remarked that the country’s current economic conditions are “the most difficult ever”.

This came in a briefing delivered by Al-Abbasi before Parliament on the results of the visit of a Tunisian delegation to Washington earlier this month to hold discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Al-Abbasi affirmed: “The economic situation could not be more difficult than it is now.”

The Tunisian official stated that technical talks began on 18 May with IMF experts to discuss various economic reforms, noting that the talks will continue over the course of three weeks.

“These talks will be followed in a later period by negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to reach an agreement on a new loan,” he added.

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The Tunisian economy recorded a three per cent contraction in the first quarter of 2021, with expectations of a growth rate of 3.9 per cent for the full year.

Al-Abbasi stated: “The business climate in Tunisia is dire despite the availability of opportunities, and investment is expected to decline by 14 per cent in 2021.”

He continued: “There is much potential, which remains unexploited, especially in the phosphate, oil and gas and investment sectors.”

On 23 February, Moody’s, the international credit rating agency, conducted its latest review of Tunisia’s credit standing to be downgraded from B2 to B3, while maintaining a bleak outlook.

Al-Abbasi announced before Parliament on Friday that Fitch Ratings is expected to conduct its first review of the classification of Tunisia at the end of next June.

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