IMF Stranglehold Pushing Tunisia to the Brink

The International Monetary Fund is pushing Tunisia to the brink of economic and political disaster with its refusal to release urgently needed funds at a time when the country most needs international support.

The Tunisian government has said that the IMF has suspended payments on its four-year $2.8-billion loan to Tunisia, which is scheduled to run until May 2020. The IMF’s action is designed to pressure the government into mass dismissals in the public sector, along with sales of government assets and possible cuts to pensions.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “The IMF is pushing Tunisia to the brink, with potentially devastating effects on the economy and the democratic system which, almost alone in the region, has been built by the people following the end of the dictatorship in 2011. The consequences of this for Tunisia and its neighbours would be catastrophic.

Tunisia is in the middle of constitutional and institutional reform, with unprecedented changes to the tax system, much greater transparency and measures to protect the environment. These reforms, along with planned and just changes in the public sector, need enough time to develop and take root. Ideological diktats like this from the IMF will throw thousands into poverty, and destroy the progress that has been made and that Tunisians are determined to extend. A deepening economic crisis would lead to a resurgence of fundamentalism and increase the risk of terrorist attacks both in Tunisia and in nearby countries.”