Saudi Arabia will provide $500 million in "concessional loan and grant" to Tunisia, which is facing a financial crisis and a stalemate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a state media outlet from the oil-rich monarchy reported Thursday. of the Gulf.
With a debt that reaches approximately 80% of its GDP, the Maghreb country has been negotiating a new loan of almost 2 billion dollars with the IMF for almost two years, but the discussions are at a standstill due to the rejection of the Tunisian president, Kais Saied, to the reforms recommended by the Washington-based organization.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan and his Tunisian counterpart Sihem Boughdiri "signed a concessional loan agreement in the amount of US$400 million today in Tunisia," the official Saudi news agency SPA reported.
Both officials also signed "a protocol of agreement that provides for the granting of a donation of 100 million dollars," he added.
The Saudi minister highlighted his country's "key role in supporting the development and economy of Arab and Muslim countries," according to SPA, which stated that Riyadh had already granted a loan of 500 million dollars to the Central Bank of Tunisia in 2019.
He promised that his country would "continue" to support Tunisia and announced "further meetings in the coming weeks to provide additional support from the Saudi Fund for Development and other development funds from the Gulf countries," according to a video released by the Tunisian presidency. after a meeting between the Saudi minister and President Saied.
In recent years, several Gulf countries have become increasingly important as international creditors, as have China and India.
Last January, Jadaan claimed in Davos, Switzerland, that Riyadh had "changed its way of helping" other countries and was now primarily looking out for its own "interest," after long issuing blank checks to fragile economies.
Earlier this month, the coffers of Pakistan's state bank received deposits of $2 billion from Saudi Arabia and $1 billion from the United Arab Emirates, just before the IMF approved $3 billion in assistance to Islamabad. millions of dollars.
While recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, Tunisia suffered a new blow with the war in Ukraine, which caused prices of grain and oil, which it imports largely, to skyrocket.