BEIRUT

Middle East

World Bank approves $500 million loan for Tunisia

Al Nahda supporters wave flags as they attend a concert during the second anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution at Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis January 14, 2013. REUTERS/Anis Mili

TUNIS: The World Bank has approved a $500 million loan to Tunisia to support its 2013 budget and help its economy after the first Arab Spring uprising that toppled its former ruler, a minister said on Thursday.

Two years after the revolution that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, increasing numbers of Tunisians are staging street protests to demand jobs and economic development.

The new loan follows another of the same amount last November to support economic recovery by providing funds to improve the business and financial sectors and reform social services.

"The World Bank approved a loan of $500 million to support Tunisia's budget in 2013," Riadh Bettaib, minister of investment and international cooperation, said.

Tunisia, whose uprising sparked political changes across North Africa, said in November it is seeking a $2.5 billion loan from the IMF, and Fund officials said last Friday discussions were under way to establish what was needed.

Tunisia's Islamist-led government has sought to revive the economy hit by a decline in trade with Europe and by policy disputes between secularists and hardline Salafi Islamists.

Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, said on Wednesday in Tunis he was optimistic about the future of Tunisia though it needed painful reforms to revive its economy.

 

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