Tunis: Tunisia is preparing to issue euro-denominated bonds worth as much as $1.12 billion (1 billion euros) within a few weeks, a government official said on Friday, as it looks to cover part of its budget deficit.
The North African state is struggling with dwindling tourism revenue after three militant attacks last year, protests over unemployment and slow progress on the economic reforms and cuts in public spending demanded by international lenders.
"We will go to the international market in few weeks... it should be between mid-March and May 2016, for between 750 million euros and 1 billion euros," the official told Reuters, asking not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
He said the financing would help cover part of the budget deficit and the Finance Ministry had asked the central bank to start with the technical procedures for the bond operation.
Tunisia last went to the international market a year ago, with a $1 billion bond.
Tunisia's economy has lagged since the 2011 uprising against former leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali that sparked the protests across North Africa and the Middle East. Two attacks last year by militants targeted its tourism industry.
Protests over a lack of jobs that erupted in several towns last month also underscored demands for more economic opportunities in under-developed areas and among disenfranchised youths who see the revolution brought them little benefit.
Unemployment stood at 15.3 per cent in 2015, up from 12 per cent in 2010.
Last October, the government said it expected the country's 2016 deficit was expected to narrow to 3.9 per cent of gross domestic product from an estimated 4.4 per cent in 2015.
The Finance Ministry said at the time Tunisia needed around 6 billion dinars in total financing, including $1.53 billion, or 3 billion dinars, in external financing.
Economic growth slipped to 0.8 per cent last year mainly because of the impact of the militant attacks.
An International Monetary Fund team began talks with Tunisia on Thursday over a new credit programme, tied to measures to strengthen its economy and finances and likely to be worth at least $1.7 billion over four years.
Tunisia will also get a loan of 500 million euros ($550 million) from the European Union to support the economy, and former colonial ruler France last month pledged 1 billion euros in aid over five years.