IMF ready to provide funds to help Tunisia recovery

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By Anna Yukhananov | November 15, 2012 1:35 PM EST

The International Monetary Fund is willing to provide external financing to Tunisia to help it recover from last year's political turmoil, David Lipton, the IMF's first deputy managing director, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The IMF stands ready to help Tunisia with policy advice, technical assistance and, if appropriate, financing," said Lipton, who visited the country this week and met with political and business leaders.

Tunisia was swept up in the Arab Spring uprisings last year across the Middle East and North Africa, which toppled its ruler after an almost 23-year reign.

Since then, several countries in the region have struggled to regain economic stability while dealing with political transition and a slowing global economy. Governments have spent billions to create jobs and cope with rising living costs.

In its annual assessment of Tunisia earlier this year, the IMF said the north African nation is still struggling to emerge from recession and faces risks from the euro zone debt crisis and internal tensions.

Lipton said countries in the region should engage with the international community and private investors to shore up growth and create jobs.

"Many problems in the Arab countries in transition do not have ready-made solutions; work with many partners is necessary to address them," he said.

Lipton also said structural reforms were needed, such as an improved business climate, and a social safety net to protect vulnerable populations.

The international community promised funds to help Arab Spring states transition to growth, but local officials have complained that much of the money pledged has not materialized.

Political instability in some countries has deterred some donor governments and institutions, while others struggle with budget pressures of their own.

Last year, the finance ministers from the Group of Eight largest economies in the world pledged $38 billion to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan.

The IMF has promised a further $35 billion in funding to countries affected by the Arab Spring uprisings. It is now negotiating a loan to Egypt.

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; editing by Christopher Wilson)

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