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Tunisia’s President is Looking for Ways to Avoid a Bailout Package Worth nearly $2bn

President Kais Saied has proposed taxing the country’s wealthiest citizens to avoid the “foreign diktats” of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Despite reaching an agreement in principle last October on a bailout package worth nearly $2bn, talks with the IMF have stalled for months over demands to restructure public bodies and lift subsidies on basic goods. Tunisia’s debt reached about $37bn at the end of 2022, or 79.9 percent of gross domestic product, according to figures presented by the ministry during the session. The poorest have been hit the hardest by soaring inflation and the worldwide surge in food prices. The United Nation’s financial agency has called for legislation to restructure more than 100 state-owned firms, which hold monopolies over many parts of the economy and in many cases, are heavily indebted. Two previous IMF loan deals, for $1.7bn in 2013 and $2.8bn in 2016, have done little to fix the country’s public finances.