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President of Tunisia Fires Economy Minister After Statements on IMF

Negotiations between International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Tunisia have been stalled for several months, as the US and France specifically call for the country to implement reforms to receive the funds. Kais Saied disagrees with the conditions that the organization is proposing for providing financial assistance to the North African nation.

Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed on Tuesday the Minister of Economy and Planning Samir Saied, after the latter’s statements indicating the necessity of securing a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to obtain foreign financing.

President of the Republic Kais Saied decided to terminate the duties of the minister of economy and planning, Samir Saied,” the presidency said in a brief statement.

The head of state appointed Sihem Boughediri Namsia to head the ministry on a provisional basis.

Earlier, Samir Saied spoke in favor of fulfilling the conditions of the IMF, telling media that the talks between Tunisia and IMF will give signals to other finance entities.

“Lenders are wondering about Tunisia‘s talks with the IMF […] any deal would give a strong signal to the rest of the financiers,” he as cited by media.

According to media, the president, in his turn, opposed to what he described as the dictates of the IMF and stated that the fulfilling the fund’s conditions would trigger protests.

Last year, the North African nation secured a staff-level agreement with the IMF for a $1.9 billion loan. However, it has since failed to meet obligations and benefactors consider the country’s financial status to be progressively straying from the numbers on which the agreement was founded.

Later in April, the president expressed his rejection of the terms of the $1.9 billion IMF bailout package, which among other things, include cuts to food and energy subsidies and a reduction in the public wage bill.

President Saied has repeatedly stated that cuts to subsidies could have a serious negative impact on Tunisia. To illustrate his position, the leader recalled the deadly riots that hit the country in 1983 after the authorities raised the price of bread.

In September, Tunisian Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar told Sputnik Africathat the country’s government plans to maintain communication with the International Monetary Fund, however, it is necessary to focus on safeguarding the interests of the nation and its people.

Source: Sputnik