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World Bank Lowers Growth Forecast for Tunisia

World Bank Lowers Growth Forecast for Tunisia

Saturday, 16 April, 2022 - 09:00
Women shop at Sidi Bahri market in Tunis, Tunisia (File photo: Reuters)

The World Bank has just revised its growth forecasts downwards for Tunisia, dropping it from a previous forecast of 3.5 percent to 3 percent in 2022.

The report prepared by the bank, entitled "Forecasting Growth in The Middle East and North Africa in Times of Uncertainty," indicated that Tunisia's economic prospects remain uncertain, especially that the economic resilience in 2021 was moderate, and that concerns related to debt repayment remain strong due to budget deficit and high financing needs.

The bank highlighted that the modest growth is due to the economy's close link to tourism, tight budget margins, challenging business climate, and restrictions on investment and competition.

The report pointed out that Tunisia is a supplier of energy and grain and remains vulnerable to increasing international raw materials prices due to extreme uncertainty, such as the current war in Ukraine.

Tunisia is facing challenges in maintaining its food subsidies.

"Rising oil prices could delay reforms, however, as subsidies might rise with global food and energy prices," according to the report.

The World Bank noted that the growth rate in Tunisia would achieve gains, but it remains modest in light of "the structural volatility," the economic situation, the repercussions and the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine, and the sanctions associated with it.

The bank expected the inflation rate to reach 6.5 percent in 2022 and 2023 and the poverty rate to reach 3.4 percent in 2022 and drop to 3.1 percent in 2023.

Tunisian expert Ezzedine Saidan believes the figures and indicators are optimistic, noting that the local economy is still under solid shock at energy and grain prices, which Tunisia depends on for supply.

Saidan warned that if commodity prices continue to rise, the cost will double on the local economy, and such results may not be achieved again.

The Ministry of Finance predicted a medium growth rate in the coming years, announcing in a February report that the growth rate will reach 2.5 percent in 2023 and 2024, then three percent in 2025 and 2026.

The Ministry indicated its adherence to reducing the budget deficit, adding that wages should be dropped to 14.4 percent of the gross domestic product in 2024 compared to 16.4 percent in 2020.

Subsidy expenditure should decrease from 3.8 percent of GDP in 2020 to 2.1 percent in 2024.

The government aims to gradually reduce its budget deficit by 2026 from 8.9 percent of GDP in 2020 to 6.2 percent in 2022 and 2023, then 5.3 percent in 2024.

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