Italy wants the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to start granting financing to Tunisia without setting conditions, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said in Rome on Thursday 13 April.
“Our proposal is to start financing Tunisia, through the IMF, and to pay, after a first installment, a second installment with the progress of the reforms”, he detailed during a press briefing after a meeting with his Tunisian counterpart, Nabil Ammar. But these slices should not be “totally conditioned on the conclusion of the reform process”underlined Mr. Tajani. “The Minister assured me that the reforms are continuing”he specified.
Tunisian President Kais Saied last week rejected the “dictates” of the IMF, which conditions the granting of a loan to Tunisia to economic reforms and the lifting of certain state subsidies. “As far as the IMF is concerned, dictates from abroad that only lead to further impoverishment are unacceptable”said Mr. Saïed on April 6.
European leaders, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, fear that an economic collapse in Tunisia will increase the outflow of migrants to European shores. Thursday in Rome, his Minister of Foreign Affairs estimated that “all skeptical or non-positive messages in relation to Tunisia (…) do not help the Tunisian economy and therefore feed all the scourges, including illegal migration”. “Helping the Tunisian economy also means fighting against migration”he concluded.
Tunisia, indebted to about 80% of its GDP, obtained an agreement in principle from the IMF, mid-October, for a new loan of nearly 2 billion dollars (about 1.8 billion euros) in order to help overcome the serious financial crisis it is going through. But the talks are deadlocked due to Tunisia’s lack of firm commitment to implement a reform program to restructure the more than 100 heavily indebted public companies and lift subsidies on certain basic products.