Middle East Online

Tunisia to spend $850million combatting coronavirus impact

Tunisia took extraordinary measures on Sunday to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus by providing nearly $1 billion in support to protect citizens and reduce the consequences of the epidemic on the economy.

The Tunisian Prime Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh, announced yesterday, Saturday, a number of exceptional economic and social measures to confront the spread of the pandemic, at a cost of approximately 2.5 billion dinars, equivalent to one billion dollars.

“In these measures, additional allocations of 500 million dinars ($171 million) will be allocated to support the strategic stock of medicines, food and fuel,” al-Fakhfakh said in a speech broadcast on state television.

Among new measures, the government will delay tax debts, postpone taxes on small- and medium-sized businesses, delay repayment of low-income employee loans and provide financial assistance to poor families.

Al-Fakhfakh said that the government also intends to create investment funds worth up to 700 million dinars ($ 250 million) to capitalise the institutions affected by the Coronavirus proliferation crisis, according to the announcement by the Prime Minister.

Tunisia has confirmed 60 cases of the disease, which is expected to hit its tourism sector, which accounts for about 10% of gross domestic product.

Tunisia’s president on Friday ordered a general lockdown, limiting citizens’ free movement in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“All of Tunisia is united in this dangerous war. The war has a cost and the exceptional decisions that we announced have a cost, but we have no choice”, Fakhfakh said in speech.

The government will provide 450 million dinars in financial aid to poor families and Tunisians who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis.

It allocated 1.2 billion in loans and aid to help companies affected by the crisis.

Tunisia now expects an economic recession, prompting the central bank on Tuesday to cut its key interest rate by 100 basis points.

Fakhfakh has said the government reduced its growth forecast this year to 1% from 2.7%. Source