Qatar bank gives Tunisia $500m deposit, says source

Tunisia’s government faces pressure from lenders such as the World Bank and the IMF

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Qatar National Bank, part owned by the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, has given Tunisia a $500 million deposit to support its foreign currency reserves, a senior official in Tunisia’s central bank told Reuters on Saturday.

The deposit was made as Tunisia’s Islamist-led government faces pressure from lenders such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to make reforms to trim its budget deficit and end a political crisis.

Qatar, which supports Islamist parties who rose after the Arab Spring revolts, gave similar deposits to Egypt during the rule of former Islamist President Mohamed Mursi before he was overthrown by the army in July.

Disagreements with the new government pushed Qatar to retreat from commitments to other deposits for Egypt.

Tunisia’s deposit will shore up the economy and also help shippers of essential goods such as grain to find foreign currency to pay for imports.

The official said that the deposit will be paid back over five years with an interest rate of between 2.5 and 3 percent.

After months of crisis, Tunisia’s Islamist-led government is in talks with secular opponents to hand over power to a caretaker administration that will govern until new elections are held early next year.

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