The African Development Bank, represented by Vice-President Ndoumbe Lobé and the Tunisian Minister for Investment and International Cooperation, Riadh Bettaieb, signed a 387.6 million euro loan agreement for the financing of the Economic Recovery and Inclusive Development Support Program (PARDI) for Tunisia. The loan was approved by the AfDB Board of Directors at its October 28 meeting.
"This program seeks to assist our country to successfully surmount this period of transition with a rapid and efficient response to the urgent and immediate needs coming in the wake of the revolution," said Minister Bettaieb.
The program is a continuation of the Bank's Governance and Inclusive Development Support Program (PAGDI) approved in May 2011, and reinforces the Bank's support of post-revolutionary Tunisia in areas relating to economic growth and the reduction of regional disparities. "The new program seeks to put the country on the road to inclusive growth and responds to the needs expressed by the Tunisian people through a series of measures aimed at the reduction of disparities, the promotion of growth, competitiveness and equal opportunities for employment," explained the Director of AfDB's Human Development Department, Agnes Soucat.
Employment remains a major challenge in Tunisia, and is one of the leading pillars of the program, which aims to revive the economy by improving the business environment, developing microfinance, and strengthening the effectiveness and governance of existing employment programs. Three objectives have been earmarked, in particular, namely the reduction of regional disparities and the fight against exclusion, the quest for inclusive growth, an increased rate of employment and competition, as well as the strengthening of citizens' cooperation and involvement, accountability and transparency.
The program also intends to make good the insufficiencies of the existing employment program and improve the system of insertion into the job market. It supports the new employment incentive program with more thorough supervision and a better insertion rate for job-seeking youths thanks to a more careful selection and a continuous follow-up with beneficiaries. It equally intends to improve the quality of teaching, giving added responsibility to learning institutions whose purpose is to ensure greater alignment between training programs and the demands of the job market.
Finally, efforts made by the Government will be sustained in the design and implementation of the national labour strategy.
Rural development is another important undertaking, with support provided by PARDI through concrete reforms to the local tax system, and the strengthening of social protection programs especially in impoverished regions.
"The country needs courageous structural reforms with a view to rekindling the economy and accelerating growth in the mid-term," said Jacob Kolster, AfDB Director for the Northern Africa Department. "Budgetary support therefore seeks to encourage the government to speed up reforms while providing the necessary latitude for economic revival and the required investments to restore growth. The loan will be part of a series of measures for technical assistance."
The Economic Recovery and Inclusive Development Support Program is jointly funded by the AfDB, the World Bank and the European Union.