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IMF ready to provide funds to help Tunisia recovery

The International Monetary Fund is willing to provide external financing to Tunisia to help it recover from last year's political turmoil.

WASHINGTON // The International Monetary Fund is willing to provide external financing to Tunisia to help it recover from last year's political turmoil, David Lipton, the IMF's first deputy managing director, said.

Tunisia was swept up in the Arab Spring uprisings last year, which toppled its ruler after an almost 23-year reign.

Since then, several countries in the region have struggled to regain economic stability while dealing with political transition and a slowing global economy. Governments have spent billions to create jobs and cope with rising living costs.

"The IMF stands ready to help Tunisia with policy advice, technical assistance and, if appropriate, financing," Mr Lipton said on Wednesday.

He visited the country this week and met with political and business leaders.

In its annual assessment of Tunisia earlier this year, the IMF said the north African nation is still struggling to emerge from recession and faces risks from the eurozone debt crisis and internal tensions.

Mr Lipton said countries in the region should engage with the international community and private investors to shore up growth and create jobs.

"Many problems in the Arab countries in transition do not have ready-made solutions; work with many partners is necessary to address them," he said.

He also said structural reforms were needed, such as an improved business climate, and a social safety net to protect vulnerable populations.

The international community promised funds to help Arab Spring states transition to growth, but local officials have complained that much of the money pledged has not materialised.

Political instability in some countries has deterred some donor governments and institutions, while others struggle with budget pressures of their own.

Last year, the finance ministers from the Group of Eight largest economies in the world pledged US$38 billion to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan.

The IMF has promised a further $35 billion (Dh140bn) in funding to countries affected by the Arab Spring uprisings. It is now negotiating a loan to Egypt.

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