TUNIS – Tunisia said on Friday it expects to secure $1 billion in loans soon from the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support its budget, as its economy gradually emerges from the aftermath of the uprising that toppled the former regime.
Investment Minister Riadh Bettaib told reporters the two institutions would each lend $500 million. The loans “will support the budget for the last six months of 2012”, he said.
Bettaib said the loans would fund infrastructure projects, job creation and help the private sector recover from the repercussions of the revolt.
The government forecasts a budget deficit of 6.6 percent of gross domestic product this year.
Police fired teargas and rubber bullets on Thursday to disperse protesters demanding jobs and more investment in the town of Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia, where the revolution that ousted Tunisia’s autocratic leader last year began, triggering the Arab Spring uprisings.
The protest reflected how far Tunisia has to go to fulfils the promise of its revolution, which began with the death of jobless university graduate Mohamed Bouazizi who set himself on fire in despair after police confiscated his unlicensed fruit and vegetable cart.
The Tunisian economy is gradually recovering from last year’s political turmoil but it faces problems as a result of the crisis in the euro zone, the main market for its exports and the source of most of its tourist visitors.