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Tunisia in position of strength in face of crisis,according to IMF

Tunisia has kept a relatively favourable position in the face of the global economic and financial crisis, the most serious one in the last 60 years, said  Joel Toujas-Bernaté, head of the Middle East and Central Asia Department and head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission in Tunisia.

The IMF official, who has been in the county since June 10, 2009 as part of periodic visits of the world institution to gauge the impact of the crisis on its member countries, underlined that Tunisia is able, during the present year, to achieve a 3-per-cent growth rate (IMF forecasts), given the good performances expected in the agriculture and energy sectors.
This is an exceptional feat which will represent an important margin of 7 growth points compared to Tunisia’s major partners, he pointed out.
Indeed, the recession of Tunisia’s economic and commercial partners, mainly European countries, is estimated at 4%, he pointed out, reminding that the IMF predicts, for the first time since the second World War, a 1% to 1.5 % recession of the world economy.
Joel Toujas-Bernaté described his talks and consultations with the Tunisian authorities as “very open and very constructive.”
The economic openness policies carried out by Tunisia, he said, helped achieve productivity and competitiveness gains and placed Tunisian companies in a “very solid” position to resist to this chock.
Tunisia’s “very prudent” macro-economic policy, be it in matters of public finance or monetary policy, helped the country have a very important room for manoeuvre in this critical period, he said.
Despite the fallout of the global crisis on the country, in particular in terms of exports which posted a drop early 2009, . Toujas-Bernaté underlined that Tunisia still possesses strong assets and indicators.
The latter include notably stable tourist revenues, remittances of Tunisian expatriates which continue despite the crisis, foreign direct investments (FDI) which are still made at a satisfying level and a positioning that is still “very robust” in terms of official foreign currency reserves which have reached approximately 9 billion dollars, i.e. nearly 6 months of imports.
The Tunisian authorities have really reacted “very swiftly” to the first signs of this crisis, . Joel Toujas-Bernaté said, adding that all measures adopted to support companies, notably the offshore ones, helped the country reduce the impact of the crisis on the Tunisian economy.
With regard to the budget policy, the IMF official argued that the budget deficit, which will reach this year 4%, will not weaken the major macro-economic balances, thanks to the decrease in the public debt and would remain below 50% of the GDP in 2009.
The financial sector has not suffered from the crisis, he noted, as reflected in the continuous dynamics of raising funds, the active contribution to the economy’s financing and continuous improvement of the sector.
Other positive indicators the head of the IMF mission mentioned, a falling inflation rate, slightly over 3%, and current external account which started to improve early this year, benefitting partly from the fall in the world prices of raw materials.
The world institution backs up the reflationary policies started by the Tunisian authorities which are necessary policies that will have a rapid impact on domestic demand in this difficult context where countries are eager to compensate the fall in foreign demand by a very active support of domestic demand, he concluded.


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