World News

Saudi Arabia pledges Tunisia financial aid of about $830 million

TUNIS (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has pledged financial aid to Tunisia worth about $830 million (£659.5 million), Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed told reporters on Saturday after a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Chahed said that $500 million was expected to finance the budget, $230 million to finance foreign trade and about $100 million 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 percent of GDP this year from 6.2 percent last year.

Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editingby Ros Russell