re posted from Presstv.com
Tunisia to get billions in aid to stabilize fragile economy
Participants at an international investment conference in Tunisia have pledged billions in loans and aid aimed at reviving the North African country’s ailing economy.
Speaking on Tuesday at the opening session of the two-day “Tunisia 2020” event, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, pledged $1.25 billion to “support the Tunisian economy and strengthen its process of development.”
Sheikh Tamim further hailed the meeting as “an example of how to support a promising experience and to avoid the worst.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia announced that it would give Tunisia $800 million in loans and aid and Kuwait vowed to lend the country $500 million in the next five years.
Turkey also announced that it would deposit a $100 million zero-interest loan at Tunisia’s central bank, with Algeria and Canada pledging unspecified financial support.
France further said that it would invest at least $265 million annually in its former colony.
Additionally, the European Investment Bank said it would lend Tunisia $2.65 billion by 2020, while the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development said it would provide the African state with $1.5 billion in soft loans.
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi told the conference that his country “faces exceptional circumstances and needs exceptional support.”
The Tunisian economy has been grappling with problems such as struggling tourism industry, low growth and an overall unemployment rate of about 16 percent. Labor strikes and protests have also hurt Tunisia’s phosphate industry.
The country suffered a series of terrorist attacks last year that killed dozens of people, among them foreign visitors. The assaults dealt a devastating blow to Tunisia’s tourism sector.
The Tunisian government has cut its 2016 economic growth forecast to 1.5 percent with its new year’s fiscal deficit projected to be 5.4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).