TUNIS, March 4 The European Investment
Bank (EIB) will lend Tunisia 500 million euros ($690 million) to
support its democratic transition in 2014, EIB Vice
President Philippe de Fontaine told Reuters.
Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said on Monday that
external borrowing needs this year would be nearly double
previous budget estimates at around $8 billion, mainly because
of rising public sector pay.
Tunisia has already secured $1.2 billion in loans from the
World Bank and another $500 million from the International
Monetary Fund earlier this year.
Tunisia has received so far some 500 million euros from EIB
since the revolution that toppled autocratic president Zine
El-Abidine Ben Ali and sparked uprisings across the region.
"We have increased our support to 500 million euro only in
2014. It is a clear message of our support to the democratic
transition in Tunisia," de Fontaine said in an interview with
The package includes a $200 million loan to develop the
Nawara gas field in southern Tunisia.
"We will continue to support this country to improve its
economy as we want Tunisia to succeed in its political
transition," de Fontaine added.
The North African country's economy relies heavily on
European tourism and is still recovering from the aftermath of
its political upheaval three years ago.
A caretaker government has taken over pending elections
later this year. High living costs and a lack of economic
opportunities remain major concerns for many Tunisians.
Political sources told Reuters that Prime Minister Mehdi
Jomaa was preparing to announce subsidy cuts and tax rises to
hold down government borrowing.