Tunisia prepares to issue bonds as it seeks to bridge budget deficit

Tunisia's central bank holds benchmark interest rate unchanged at 5.75 per cent

A picture taken on May 21, 2018, shows Azouz Kehia displaying traditional woven hats, known as Chechia, at his shop in Tunis on May 21, 2018.  / AFP / FETHI BELAID
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Tunisia's central bank said the time is right to tap international markets for bond issuance as it seeks to fund budget and balance of payments deficits.

The bank also said it will hold the key interest rate unchanged at 5.75 per cent, according to a statement on its website on Monday.

"The current situation is appropriate to look to the international markets to meet financing needs, especially in the light of increasing pressure on foreign currency assets and liquidity of the domestic financial market," the central bank said.

The Tunisian government forecast that its budget deficit will narrow to 4.9 per cent of gross domestic product this year, down from about 6 per cent in 2017. It aims to boost GDP growth to about 3 per cent next year from 2.3 per cent last year.


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In January, Tunisia's parliament approved a plan to go to market with a $1 billion bond to help finance the budget. A roadshow was planned for the second half of March, according to Reuters.

The central bank did not specify a date for the bond issuance in its statement.

Tunisia's government is currently in deadlock over plans for economic reform to pull out the country from a deep slump that began after the ousting of former president  Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

The country is dependent on donors such as the International Monetary Fund, which in 2016 awarded Tunisia a $2.9bn loan and backed its economic reform efforts. The country said it expects to obtain the fourth tranche of the IMF loan in June.