Tunisia says World bank to lend it $400 million for social reforms

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FILE PHOTO: A participant stands near a logo of World Bank at the International Monetary Fund - World Bank Annual Meeting 2018 in Nusa Dua

TUNIS -The World Bank will lend Tunisia about $400 million to finance social reforms, the Tunisian government said on Tuesday, as it started talks with the International Monetary Fund on economic reforms.

The North African country, which is suffering from a financial crisis, is seeking to obtain a rescue package from the IMF in exchange for economic reforms, including spending cuts.

After a meeting with Prime Minister Najla Bouden, the World Bank Vice President Ferid Belhaj said on Tuesday the bank was ready to provide the necessary funds for Tunisia to implement economic reforms.

The IMF and foreign donors have said the outlined economic reforms, including to energy subsidies, would need broad support, including from the powerful UGTT union for a deal to be secured.

Finance Minister Sihem Boughdiri said earlier this month that Tunisia hoped to seal an agreement with the IMF in April.

(Reporting By Tarek AmaraEditing by Chris Reese and Jane Merriman)