The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Ministry of Finance of Tunisia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) allowing the country to become eligible for domestic lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in local currency under a new EBRD programme.
In parallel, the Ministry of Finance intends to take measures to improve local currency intermediation, develop local capital markets and increase financial stability in Tunisia.
The MoU was signed in Tunis today by Minister of Finance Slim Chaker and by Hildegard Gacek, EBRD Managing Director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region.
The EBRD operates an SME Local Currency Programme, which helps countries implement reforms and develop local capital markets. The Programme enhances access to affordable local currency funding for SMEs and increases the availability of sources of local currency funding.
Under the Programme, the EBRD can provide local currency loans to SMEs at interest rates that aim to stimulate the local currency loan market.
Hildegard Gacek said: “This MoU is a very important step towards increasing access to finance for SMEs in Tunisia as it will allow us to bring the successful SME Local Currency Programme to the country. Tunisia continues to commit itself to a reform programme that will improve, broaden and deepen local currency intermediation and local capital markets.”
Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie, Head of EBRD operations in Tunisia, said: “The SME Local Currency Programme in Tunisia will allow the EBRD to lend at competitive rates in Tunisian dinars to local SMEs, which are the backbone of Tunisia’s economy. This confirms the EBRD’s commitment to the country and its strong willingness to support the development of the Tunisian private sector.”
Slim Chaker, Minister of Finance in Tunisia, said: “This agreement with the EBRD falls within the scope of the efforts by the Tunisian government to support the economy and Tunisian SMEs. The implementation of this agreement will allow entrepreneurs to benefit from financing with new preferential rates to achieve and expand their projects while protecting them against currency exchange risks.”
The EBRD has been investing in Tunisia since 2012 and has funded more than 25 projects in the private sector for a total of over €300 million. The Bank has also supported more than 220 Tunisian SMEs by providing technical assistance.