Tunisia to Receive 450 Million Euros in European Loans, Grants

Members of the honor guard stand at attention during a flag-raising in place of Kasba in Tunis, Tunisia, June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
Members of the honor guard stand at attention during a flag-raising in place of Kasba in Tunis, Tunisia, June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
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Tunisia to Receive 450 Million Euros in European Loans, Grants

Members of the honor guard stand at attention during a flag-raising in place of Kasba in Tunis, Tunisia, June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
Members of the honor guard stand at attention during a flag-raising in place of Kasba in Tunis, Tunisia, June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

The European Investment Bank on Tuesday announced grants and loans worth 450 million euros ($480 million) for crisis-hit Tunisia to support small and medium-sized enterprises and infrastructure projects.

The EIB, the European Union's investment arm, said it was providing "new financial support" to Tunisia, targeting "high-impact projects for the population and the country's economic and social development".

The financing will be formalized during the Tunisia Investment Forum to be held on Wednesday and Thursday in Tunis, the bank said in a statement.

The forum will be attended by the EIB's new vice-president in charge of financing in the Maghreb region, Ioannis Tsakiris, Reuters reported.

The funding "will play a crucial role in the creation of jobs, stimulating innovation and promoting balanced development to benefit all Tunisians", Tsakiris said in the statement.

The financing includes a line of credit worth 170 million euros for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, "which make up 90 percent of the country's businesses and employ 60 percent of the workforce", according to the bank.

It will also provide 210 million euros to develop the "strategic" route between Tunisia's second city of Sfax on its eastern coast and the remote, underserved Kasserine area in the west.

A loan of 45 million euros will be granted to finance the ELMED electricity linkage project between Tunisia and Italy.

Tunisia has faced mounting financial woes, with debt levels at 80 percent of its GDP and unemployment and poverty on the rise.

The crisis has been compounded by the power grab staged by President Kais Saied since July 2021.

Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a $2 billion loan have stalled since then, with Saied rejecting reforms demanded by the body.

The crisis has driven thousands of Tunisians to attempt perilous Mediterranean boat crossings in the hope of finding better lives in Europe.



Egypt Raises Domestic Fuel Prices by up to 15% before IMF Review

This picture taken on March 20, 2024 shows a view of the Cairo University bridge across the Nile river connecting Cairo (R) with its twin city of Giza (L). (AFP)
This picture taken on March 20, 2024 shows a view of the Cairo University bridge across the Nile river connecting Cairo (R) with its twin city of Giza (L). (AFP)
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Egypt Raises Domestic Fuel Prices by up to 15% before IMF Review

This picture taken on March 20, 2024 shows a view of the Cairo University bridge across the Nile river connecting Cairo (R) with its twin city of Giza (L). (AFP)
This picture taken on March 20, 2024 shows a view of the Cairo University bridge across the Nile river connecting Cairo (R) with its twin city of Giza (L). (AFP)

Egypt raised the prices of a wide range of fuel products on Thursday, the official gazette said, four days before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conducts a third review of its expanded $8 billion loan program for the country.

The official gazette, citing the petroleum ministry, said petrol prices increased by up to 15% per litre, with 80 octane rising to 12.25 Egyptian pounds ($0.25), 92 octane to 13.75 pounds and 95 octane to 15 pounds.

Diesel, one of the most commonly used fuels, saw the biggest increase, rising to 11.50 Egyptian pounds ($0.24) from 10 pounds, according to Reuters.

This is the second time the government has raised fuel prices since the IMF expanded its loan program by $5 billion in March. Egypt has committed to slashing fuel subsidies as part of the agreement.

But Egyptians who spoke to Reuters, including taxi driver Sayed Abdo, complained that Thursday's move would mean an automatic increase in prices for daily goods.

"If you ride with me today and usually pay 10 Egyptian pounds, I will ask you for 15, because fuel prices are raised. That's normal, because when I go get food, what I used to buy with 10 Egyptian pounds becomes now for 15," he said.

"We don't know where we're headed with these prices."

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said prices of petroleum products will gradually increase until the end of 2025, adding that the government could no longer bear the burden of increasing consumption.

Egyptians have also endured blackouts, which Madbouly said had ended at the start of this week, as the country struggled to import sufficient natural gas to tackle the summer heat.

In April, the IMF estimated that Egypt will spend 331 billion Egyptian pounds ($6.85 billion) on fuel subsidies in 2024/25 and 245 billion in 2025/26.

The IMF's approval for the third review of the expanded loan program was originally expected on July 10, but was pushed back to July 29, with the lender attributing the delay to the finalisation of some policy details.

The IMF is expected to disburse $820 million to Egypt after concluding its review.