Tunisian President Kais Saied has relieved Samir Saied (Economy Minister) of his duty over a statement about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its funding in the country.
Saied said Tuesday that a deal with the IMF would be vital for obtaining other foreign financing.
President Kais strongly opposes what he described as the dictates of the IMF, saying that the IMF is “not sacred” and its conditions will lead to protests.
The minister told TAP state news agency on Tuesday that “lenders are wondering about Tunisia’s talks with the IMF.” adding that “any deal would give a strong signal to the rest of the financiers.”
Tunisia last year reached a staff-level deal with the IMF for a $1.9 billion loan, but it has already missed key commitments, and donors believe the state’s finances are increasingly diverging from the figures the deal was based on.
The president criticized previous statements by the minister, saying that the government was charged with implementing the president’s policy.
The president assigned Finance Minister Sihem Boughdiri to temporarily run the economy ministry.
In 2021, Tunisia asked the IMF for a new financing programme and is preparing to start talks with the fund.
The Tunisian government had agreed on an economic reform package at the end of last month that tackles subsidies, taxes and state firms, and which was seen as opening the way for an agreement with the IMF for financial support.
It had secured nearly $750 million in 2020, through an emergency assistance loan from the multilateral lender to help counter the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Tunisia expects its economy to grow by 2.1% in 2024, up from 0.9% in 2023 and plans almost the same subsidies for fuel, electricity and food while raising taxes for banks, hotels and liquor firms, a bill on its budget showed on Tuesday.