Tunisia sees 2016 economic growth rising to 2.5 pct

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Tunisia expects economic growth to rise to 2.5 percent in 2016, compared with an expected 0.5 percent in 2015.

Finance minister announced this after its tourism industry was hit by militant attacks at a Tunis museum and a beach resort hotel.

Slim Cahker said Tunisia will adopt economic reforms next year in the banking and fiscal sectors which would strengthen the economy and raise foreign investment.

Tunisia had cut its 2015 growth forecast from a previously expected 3 percent. Tourism revenues represent about 7 percent of the economy, and, adding to the decline, the country’s vital phosphate exports have been disrupted by strikes and protests.

“In the 2016 budget we aim to achieve 2.5 percent economic growth,” Chaker said.

The government expects the budget deficit to narrow to 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 from 5.8 percent last year. In 2014, Tunisia posted GDP growth of 2.3 percent.

The North African state is under pressure from international lenders to reduce public spending – including subsidies on basic foods and fuel – and cut its deficit.

Tunisia has been praised as an example of compromise politics and democratic transition since the overthrow of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in a 2011 uprising, holding free elections and drafting a new constitution.

But many Tunisians are concerned about the rising cost of living, unemployment and the continued marginalisation of rural towns – factors that helped fuel the uprising four years ago that sparked the Arab Sring.

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