TUNIS, April 13 (Xinhua) -- The Tunisian economy is characterized by opposite trends in early 2018 and risks to macroeconomic stability have also risen, though economic growth is picking up, said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday.
"Opposite trends continue to characterize the Tunisian economy in early 2018. Economic growth is picking up, led by a good agricultural season, increases in investment and an early recovery in exports," IMF said in a statement.
"On the other hand, risks to macroeconomic stability have risen: inflation has risen rapidly to 7.6 percent in March, international reserves remain below 90 days of import cover, and public and external debts have reached 71 percent and 80 percent of GDP, respectively," the IMF mission also said.
The IMF mission paid a visit to Tunisia on April 4-11 to discuss the country's recent economic developments and its economic reform program supported by a four-year IMF Extended Fund Facility arrangement, by which a country can borrow money to address its structural problems, typically over a three- to four-year period.
To ensure a decline of the budget deficit in line with the 2018 Budget Law, the IMF proposes the government "reduce unfair energy subsidies through increases in domestic energy prices that follow international oil prices."
The IMF mission warned that any further increase in the public-sector wage, which is quite large currently, would risk being uncontrollable "unless growth surprises on the upside."
The mission also advised raising the retirement age and other parametric reforms on pensions, which "are crucial to contain the deficits in the social security system."
In early April, Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed launched a series of major reforms in the coming two years, which focus on four main aspects, namely, the social fund, public enterprises, the civil service as well as the compensation system.
The prime minister also prioritized plans regarding tax reform, administration modernization, financing of the economy and the fight against corruption.