UPDATE 1-Tunisian PM says economic reform is government priority

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TUNIS, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Tunisian Prime Minister Najla Bouden said on Tuesday that fixing public finances and implementing economic reforms will be a priority - the first sign of the government’s intention to launch reforms demanded by lenders - as Tunisia suffers a financial crisis.

“The prime minister said that the priority of her government is to balance public finances and to proceed with the necessary economic reforms,” a government statement said.

Tunisia’s president unveiled a new cabinet government on Monday but gave no hint when he would relinquish his near total control after seizing most powers in July.

Under rules President Kais Saied announced last month when he swept aside much of the constitution in a move critics called a coup, the new cabinet will ultimately answer to him rather than the prime minister.

In the first activity a day after the announcement of the government, Bouden received the central bank governor and the finance minister.

The central bank said last week it was worried about an acute shortage of external financial resources. It warned that financing the budget carries economic risks including boosting inflation, reducing the bank’s reserves and causing a drop in the value of the local currency.

Tunisia needs to raise at least $3.5 billion this year to roll over its foreign debts and pay the wages of hundreds of thousands of employees in the public sector. (Reporting By Tarek Amara Editing by Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman)