Tunisia to submit reform plan to IMF in September

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FILE PHOTO: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters building is seen in Washington

TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia will submit a national reform programme to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September, the economy minister said on Wednesday, part of efforts to secure a bailout to rescue strained public finances.

Economy Minister Samir Saied was quoted by state news agency TAP as saying the programme would be submitted to the IMF board.

Tunisia has said it wants $4 billion in loans from the IMF, though diplomats have said it is more likely to get $2 billion $3 billion.

The programme is expected to include measures to reduce the public sector wage bill, cut subsidies and outline a path to restructuring indebted state-owned companies.

Last week the government signed an agreement with the major labour union, a longstanding opponent of state spending cuts that could hit its members, and with the major business union, to hold talks on reforms.

The IMF has said securing union acceptance of reforms is critical to it regarding Tunisia’s programme as a viable basis for loan negotiations.

Efforts to secure the IMF bailout have been complicated by Tunisia’s political upheavals since President Kais Saied seized most powers a year ago, shutting down parliament and moving to rule by decree.

Saied has said the moves were needed to end political paralysis and he enshrined his expanded role in a new constitution that was passed in a referendum last month and will soon come into effect.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Alison Williams and Lisa Shumaker)

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