Tunisia has yet to present fresh recommendations regarding the conditions of a protracted $1.9 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. However, IMF Middle East and Central Asia Director, Jihad Azour, asserted on Thursday that the country should prioritize the removal of inefficient and inequitable subsidy programs.
During a press briefing held at the IMF-World Bank annual meetings in Morocco, Azour emphasized that these subsidies must undergo reform before the IMF board can grant its approval for a tentative staff-level agreement with Tunisia.
Azour pointed out that subsidies, such as those on fuel, predominantly favored affluent Tunisians and were deemed as a “fiscal inefficiency,” particularly in the face of escalating oil prices.
Jihad Azour asserted, “By reconfiguring the subsidy framework, it becomes possible to redirect resources towards enhancing inclusivity and bolstering social cohesion.”
Tunisia has endured an extended wait of over a year for the program’s endorsement. Azour mentioned that a fresh IMF delegation is scheduled to visit Tunisia, engaging with authorities to assess recent economic progress, though he refrained from specifying a timeframe.