Denys Bédarride
Saturday 18 February 2023 Last update on Saturday, February 18, 2023 At 8:00 AM

The World Bank has approved a $120 million loan to Tunisia under the SME Economic Recovery Support Project. This project aims to address the liquidity problems faced by Tunisian companies, by financing long-term lines of credit that will be on-lent by the Ministry of Finance to participating financial institutions for the granting of loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). ) eligible.

“SMEs play a key role in the Tunisian economy. The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have led to macroeconomic imbalances in Tunisia that have exacerbated the difficulties faced by SMEs and weakened their performance and financial health, explains Alexandre Arrobbio, World Bank Country Manager for Tunisia. .

Through this project and other financial sector support programs, the World Bank, in collaboration with its partners, is continuing to support the Tunisian government’s recovery plan. This plan includes carrying out crucial reforms to strengthen financial sector regulation and supervision, further develop financial infrastructure, and promote broader financial inclusion. »

Tunisian SMEs suffer from a lack of access to financing, which has further widened over the years according to surveys conducted by the World Bank: 21.9% of companies considered the lack of access to financing as an obstacle major in 2013; they were 43.9% in 2020.

SMEs that have access to financing obtain mainly short-term loans, due in particular to a lack of long-term liquidity in the banking sector. Indeed, financial markets and contractual savings institutions, which are the main sources of long-term financing in many emerging markets, are not yet fully developed in Tunisia.

Faced with these difficulties, the project will set up two lines of credit. The first scheme, for an amount of $24.5 million, will make it possible to reschedule the loans of viable SMEs by extending the maturities and thus reducing the debt burden. The second line of credit, for $93.7 million, will provide new long-term loans to viable SMEs.

Finally, the third component of the project, in the amount of $1.5 million, will consist of support for its implementation, as well as its monitoring and evaluation. The project will be based on the modernization of the Tunisian Guarantee Company (SOTUGAR), which is the subject of a parallel technical assistance program and a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank. Tunisia to strengthen its governance and oversight framework.

As part of the preparation of this project, the World Bank consulted a wide range of stakeholders who validated the establishment of the new lines of credit. This support for SMEs is carried out in cooperation with other partners, in particular the French Development Agency (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), which plan to grant similar credit facilities by summer, subject to satisfactory pre-assessment and approval by their Board of Directors.

Source The World Bank

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