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Tunisia says to have priority in sourcing gas from Algeria

November 3, 2022 at 5:33 pm

An employee works at the Tunisian Sergaz company on April 14, 2022 [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

Tunisia will have priority in sourcing gas from neighbouring Algeria this winter, Tunisian government spokesperson, Nassreddine Nsibi, said on Thursday amid a reform push linked to an international bailout, Reuters reports.

Tunisia, last month, signed a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $1.9 billion loan that could also unlock further bilateral aid to help with a crisis in public finances that has contributed to food and fuel shortages.

To secure the IMF loan, Tunisia agreed a series of reforms aimed at putting its state finances on a more sustainable trajectory and Nsibi said it would introduce measures to help people cope with increases in the price of subsidised goods.

“Tunisia has a priority in supply from its neighbour. The issue is not related to prices and we have no problem with gas supply,” Nsibi told reporters. Tunisia generates most of its electricity with gas imported from Algeria.

Tunisia has grown closer to Algeria over the past year since President Kais Saied expanded his powers and shut down parliament in 2021 in moves his foes call a coup.

He visited Algeria earlier this year for meetings with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and also attended Tuesday’s Arab Summit in Algiers. The Summit declaration included a section saying Arab States committed to helping each other economically.

“We will soon launch an electronic platform to register those wishing to obtain financial aid when subsidies on goods are reduced,” Nsibi said, adding the platform was ready and undergoing technical tests before its launch.

He said the government would initially offer support to about four fifths of Tunisians.

Tunisia has already increased the prices of petrol, electricity and cooking gas as it tries to reduce the burden on State finances. Some food staples including bread, pasta and cooking oil are also subsidised.

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