World bank approves up to $5bn loan to Tunisia

(iStock)
(iStock)

Tunis - The World Bank approved a five-year plan to lend Tunisia up to $5bn to support economic reforms aimed at reviving growth and creating jobs, the bank said on Wednesday.

The North African country is struggling with lower tourism revenue after Islamist militant attacks last year, protests over unemployment and slow progress on economic reforms that have lagged political advances made since its 2011 uprising.

Tunisia's parliament recently approved laws on banking and on strengthening central bank autonomy to shield its board from political interference, two reforms sought by the country's international lenders.

"(The) new five-year strategy of support... will provide up to $5bn in loans to Tunisia to restore economic growth and create jobs," the bank said.

The economy has faltered since the 2011 revolt against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, which sparked the Arab Spring revolutions across North Africa and the Middle East.

Problems have been exacerbated by last year's attacks by militants who targeted the tourism industry, which accounts for about 7% of gross domestic product. Gunmen killed foreign visitors at a museum in Tunis and a beach resort in Sousse, forcing tour companies to suspend some operations.

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