Tunisia caught in anti-austerity protests

Tunisian police have clashed with protesters in a fourth consecutive night of demonstrations against  austerity measures implemented in the 2018 budget.

According to Reuters, there have been demonstrations in five towns, including the capital Tunis, as anti-government protesters rally against the hike in value-added tax (VAT) and social contributions in the budget, raising the cost of living in the country.

The VAT hike and increases in social security contributions have been implemented in the new budget on recommendation from international lenders, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The protests in Tunisia have occurred at a time when Malawi is expected to sign a new agreement with the IMF, following the expiry of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) in 2017.

Under the previous ECF agreement, the IMF recommended policy measures such as placing wage caps, removing subsidies on water and electricity and floating the national currency which raised the prices of most basic commodities including water, electricity and food.

According to Jack Joo Ree the IMF country representative, the next agreement will likely be another ECF agreement focusing on fiscal consolidation with an emphasis on “cementing gains made in macro-economic stability and promoting inclusive growth”.

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