Tunisia cuts 2014 growth forecast to 2.8%, says minister

Government faces challenges of reducing budget deficit, securing more external financing and tackling public-spending cuts

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Tunisia’s government has cut its economic growth forecast to 2.8 percent for this year, which is in line with the IMF’s forecast, Finance Minister Hakim Ben Hamouda said on Monday after meeting with a delegation from the International Monetary Fund.

The government had previously forecast 4 percent growth.

Three years after the uprising that toppled long-time ruler Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and heralded the start of the Arab Spring, Tunisia is heading for elections later this year after ending a political crisis that damaged its economic stability and threatened to upset its transition to democracy.

But the government still faces the challenge of reducing a wide budget deficit, securing enough external financing and tackling the subsidy reforms and public spending cuts demanded by its international lenders.

“We see growth at 2.8 percent given the global economic situation and the context of the country's transition,” Hamouda told reporters. “We have to be realistic.”

Tunisia’s economy grew 2.6 percent last year.

The IMF, which at the start of last year agreed to give Tunisia a $1.7 billion loan in several tranches, expects Tunisia’s budget deficit to be at around 8 percent of gross domestic product this year, compared to 8.4 percent last year.

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