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Saudi pledges Tunisia financial aid of about $830m

Saudi pledges Tunisia financial aid of about $830m

Tunisia is struggling to cut its budget deficit and stabilise falling foreign currency reserves

Saudi Arabia has pledged financial aid to Tunisia worth about $830m, Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed told reporters on Saturday after a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Chahed said that $500m was expected to finance the budget, $230m to finance foreign trade and about $100m to finance projects, without elaborating.

Last month, Tunisians staged the first demonstrations in the Arab world against Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, on his visit to Tunisia, following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But the prince met with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi to improve cooperation on the “economy and finance, investment promotion and security and military cooperation to counter extremism and terrorism” a presidency statement later said.

Tunisia is struggling to cut its budget deficit, stabilise falling foreign currency reserves and manage expectations of international lenders demanding reforms such as trimming the public wage bill.

The economy has been in turmoil since autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in a 2011 uprising sparked by anger at unemployment, poverty and record levels of inflation.

Under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, Prime Minister Chahed has aimed to cut the budget deficit to about 4.9 per cent of GDP this year from 6.2 per cent last year.

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