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Tunis, February 14, 2011 - The president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Donald Kaberuka, says the Bank is ready to release the necessary resources to assist the transitional government and the people of Tunisia. Speaking during a press conference after a meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi in Tunis on Monday, Mr. Kaberuka affirmed the Bank’s commitment to strengthen the historic partnership between them at this time of economic and social pressure. He expressed “the Bank’s readiness to assist the interim government’s efforts and those of the Tunisian people at this critical time toward economic recovery.” The Bank is flexible and ready to adapt its action to the needs of the new Tunisia.
Mr. Kaberuka noted that the AfDB had contacted Tunisian authorities to express its readiness to release economic, human and technical resources, in support of the country. Tunisia is the Bank’s second largest client, with a total portfolio close to 10 billion Tunisian dinars since it began operations in the country in 1968. Tunis has been hosting the Bank’s temporary relocation agency since 2003, and over 1,600 staff members are based in Tunis.
Donald Kaberuka expressed confidence in the country’s economic recovery. He said that "Tunisia has gross foreign exchange reserves equal to 5 months of imports, moderate external debt representing 46% of its GDP and the country enjoys the confidence of international markets and financial institutions." However, Tunisian authorities have to face an economic slowdown, budget pressure and growing social expectations such as youth unemployment. The Prime Minister and the AfDB President exchanged views earlier in the day on the most appropriate support expected from the Bank in priority areas.
The Bank could help Tunisia in the following areas: employment, and especially youth employment, support to the poorest in the least favored regions of the country, implementation of current and future large infrastructure projects. He insisted on the possible assistance in recovering assets embezzled by the former regime. He also stressed the importance of strengthening institutional governance through setting up independent judiciary for instance. The Bank’s support to Tunisia could be in the form of accelerated direct budget support disbursement, loans, guarantees or technical assistance.
According to Mr Kaberuka, the Bank’s full confidence in Tunisia remains intact. “We believe the country; with the support of its partners, can manage.”