(Bloomberg) -- The World Bank agreed on a new partnership with Tunisia’s government, moving past a chill in ties as alarm grows about the country’s finances.
The decision on the partnership framework — which outlines “strategic directions for operational engagements” from 2023 to 2027 — will go up for approval by the lender’s board of directors within weeks, the World Bank said in emailed comments to Bloomberg.
“The government and the World Bank Group have reviewed and adjusted the strategy, which would now be the basis for the World Bank Group to continue playing its role as a long-term partner for the country and its people,” it said.
A breakthrough promises much-needed relief to both Tunisian coffers and holders of the country’s distressed debt. Though Tunisia also reached a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund in October, its directors have yet to review and sign off on the deal.
In March, the World Bank temporarily paused some discussions with Tunisia following an outbreak of violence against Black migrants that’s been blamed in part on comments made by President Kais Saied. The Tunisian government previously dismissed accusations of racism.
But urgency for the $50 billion economy has grown to secure backing from abroad.
The country has been facing new and severe shortages of bread and fuel. The north African nation has already seen a dramatic slide in the living standards of most of its 12 million population since 2011, when it helped start the Arab Spring revolts.
For the fiscal year ending in June, the World Bank is looking at about $500 million of programs for Tunisia, the lender’s vice president for the Middle East and North Africa said in an interview last month.
World Bank to Back Tunisia, Signals Worry on Egypt Currency
The “immediate priorities” of the World Bank’s new partnership program include direct support to the hardest-hit families and ensuring access to finance for small and medium-seized enterprises, according to the lender.
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