Tunisian government, unions agree to talks on IMF reform program

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TUNIS – Tunisia’s government and the country’s biggest labor and business organizations agreed on Friday to begin negotiations on Monday over economic reforms necessary by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package.

According to a government statement, Prime Minister Najla Bouden, UGTT labor union president Noureddine Taboubi, and UTICA commerce union chief Samir Majoul agreed on a “social contract” to address national concerns.

The remark was reposted on the UGTT’s Facebook page.

The labor union, which represents a large syndicate of workers, has been a vocal opponent of the government’s proposed IMF economic reforms, which include subsidy cuts, a wage freeze in the public sector, and the restructuring of state-owned enterprises.

It earlier stated that such reforms would exacerbate Tunisians’ misery and lead to a social implosion.

Tunisia is requesting $4 billion in IMF assistance in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak and the Ukraine crisis, while diplomat sources told Reuters that any IMF program approved would be unlikely to reach that figure.

The IMF wants the UGTT, a major union with a million members that has previously halted portions of the economy in protest of government reforms, to formally consent to government reforms.

Attempts to get an IMF bailout have been hampered by Tunisia’s political upheavals since President Kais Saied seized most powers a year ago, shutting down parliament and instituting rule by decree.

He pushed through a new constitution last month that formalized many of the enhanced powers he had claimed in a referendum. Official data showed that 31% of Tunisians participated, although opposition organizations have called the figure overblown.

Source: Reuters

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