AA / Tunis / Majdi Ismail
Tunisia’s external debt stood at 97.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, the highest rate in North Africa, says the African Development Bank, in its report entitled “Economic Perspectives in North Africa 2021 ”, on the theme“ Debt dynamics in North Africa: the path to post-Covid recovery ”, and relayed by the Tunis Afrique Presse Agency (TAP).
According to the said report, presented during a webinar organized on Wednesday, Tunisia remains more vulnerable to exogenous shocks than other North African countries due to its heavy dependence on external debt which has increased by 42.4 points between 2012 and 2020, reports Agence TAP.
The ADB has also warned against the scenario of an unsustainable public debt, if Tunisia does not undertake credible reforms with broad domestic support.
In the absence of reforms, gross public debt should soar to nearly 100% of GDP in the medium term, estimates the financial institution.
The report supports that in 2020, the public financing needs represented between 14 and 18% of the GDP on an annual basis, while the public debt, of which 70% is external, exceeded, in 2020, 80% of the GDP, continuing the uptrend that began in 2011.
Debt service costs take up 28% of the budget, which limits other development spending, the same source said.
The debt of public enterprises represented 13% of the GDP, in 2019, specifies the ADB, noting that these companies are still plagued by financial difficulties.
The financial institution stresses in this sense that “In mid-2020, public enterprises benefited from public guarantees estimated at 15% of GDP. If we add the debt of state enterprises to that of the central government, the total public debt would clearly exceed 100% of GDP ”.
Tunisia’s public debt amounted to 99.3 billion dinars ($ 35.7 billion) at the end of June, or 81.5% of GDP.
Tunisia is seeking a new loan of $ 4 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as new negotiations have started since mid-May.
In April 2016, the IMF’s Executive Board agreed to grant Tunisia a loan of $ 2.8 billion over 4 years, from which it had received only $ 1.6 billion, in due to the inability of the government to implement all the structural reforms planned by the international financial institution.
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