Tunisia Said to Reach Deal with IMF on $1.78 Billion Loan

Tunisia reached a deal with the International Monetary Fund for a $1.78 billion loan, a government official said, as the North African nation struggles with its post-uprising transition.

A formal announcement of the agreement will be made on April 16 and a deal will be signed by the end of May, the official said in an interview. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to brief the media.

An IMF team arrived in the country on April 8 for talks on the loan, which Tunisian officials have said is key to help deal with the economic aftershocks of the uprising that pushed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power in 2011.

The assassination of an opposition leader in February, coupled with the European debt crisis, and a lack of foreign investments have undercut stability efforts.

The government expects the economy to expand 4 percent this year compared with 3.6 percent in 2012, Tunisian Finance Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said in an April 1 interview. The budget deficit may widen to 5.9 percent of gross domestic product from 5.1 percent as spending is boosted to help create jobs in the country’s interior.

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