IMF official says Tunisia has not proposed new loan terms

By Ahmed Eljechtimi

MARRAKECH, Morocco (Reuters) – Tunisia has not made new proposals for terms of a long-delayed $1.9 billion International Monetary Fund loan, and should eliminate wasteful and socially unfair subsidies, IMF Middle East and Central Asia director Jihad Azour said on Thursday.

Azour told a news briefing at IMF-World Bank annual meetings in Morocco that such subsidies should be reformed.

Azour said that fuel subsidies, for example, were benefiting mainly wealthy Tunisians and were a “fiscal waste” at a time of high oil prices.

“By reforming the subsidy, you could allow more resources to go to finance inclusion and increase social stability,” he said.

The country has been waiting for more than a year for the programme’s approval. Azour said that a new IMF mission would visit Tunisia to meet with authorities and take stock of recent economic developments, but he did not provide details on timing. (This story has been corrected to show that the official did not say subsidy reform is a condition of loan approval in the headline and paragraph 2)

(Reporting by Ahmed Eljectimi, writing by David Lawder; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)