March 31, 2018 / 7:01 PM / 25 days ago

Tunisia raises fuel prices again to reduce budget deficit

TUNIS, March 31 (Reuters) - Tunisia raised fuel prices on Saturday for the second time in three months in an effort to rein in its budget deficit, one of a series of reforms the country’s international lenders want.

The price of a litre of petrol will rise about 3 percent, from 1.80 dinars to 1.85 dinars, starting Sunday, the ministry of energy said in a statement. The last increase was also by about 3 percent, in January of this year.

The International Monetary Fund approved last week the payment of a $257 million tranche of Tunisia’s loan programme and urged it to go ahead with more reforms.

The IMF said in statement that among the priorities for 2018 are to strengthen tax collection, not grant new wage increases unless growth surprises on the upside and enact quarterly price increase for fuel.

Fuel subsidies will rise from the 1.5 billion dinars expected this year to a 3 billion dinars with the rise of world oil prices, Minister of Reforms Taoufik Rajhi said. Tunisia has forecast that the budget deficit will fall to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2018, from about 6 percent in 2017. (Reporting By Tarek Amara, editing by Larry King)

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