Saudi Arabia to give Tunisia $500 mln as loan and grant

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Saudi Arabia will give Tunisia $500 million in the form of a soft loan and a grant to help support its economy, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Tunis, Abdel Aziz al-Saqer, told Al Arabiya on Thursday.

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The financial assistance pledged to Tunisia consists of a $400 million soft loan and a $100 million grant.

The agreements were signed in Tunis by Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Abdullah al-Jadaan and his Tunisian counterpart, Siham al-Boughdiri.

Tunisia is currently in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $1.9 billion loan proposal that the IMF made to the North African country last year. But talks have been stalled since October, after Tunisian President Kais Saied rejected the economic body’s loan stipulations.

Tunisia is preparing an alternative proposal to put to the IMF, a senior government official said in June.

Saied told IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva during a meeting in Paris in June that the fund’s conditions to provide financial support to the North African country risk sparking civil unrest.

Saied reiterated in the meeting with Georgieva that any required cuts to subsidies, mostly on energy and food, could have detrimental effects on the country, recalling deadly riots that hit Tunisia in 1983 after the government raised the price of bread.

Without a loan, Tunisia faces a full-blown balance of payments crisis.

With agencies

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