Saudi Arabia pledges $830 million financial aid to Tunisia
London, Dec. 16, 2018 (AltAfrica)-Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has returned from Saudi Arabia with several agreements with the kingdom, most notably the pledge by the latter to provide Tunisia with financial assistance of about $ 830 million
Chahed made the comments to reporters on Saturday after a visit to Saudi Arabia.
The prime minister 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 demonstrations against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) on his visit to Tunisia, following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Hundreds of Tunisians took to the streets in the capital Tunis, calling for MBS to stay away from the country and denouncing Saudi Arabia’s role in the war in Yemen.
But the prince met 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 El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in a 2011 uprising prompted 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