'Fitch Ratings Affirming Tunisia at B+ Meant to Reassure Investors': Economist

Published June 1st, 2017 - 10:53 GMT
Fitch Ratings, on Friday, affirmed Tunisia’s Long-Term and Local Currency issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at B+, outlook stable. (AFP/ File)
Fitch Ratings, on Friday, affirmed Tunisia’s Long-Term and Local Currency issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at B+, outlook stable. (AFP/ File)

"The latest rating published recently by Fitch Ratings on Tunisia is meant to improve Tunisia's image abroad," economist and member of the Centre for Prospective and Development Studies, Mourad Hattab said in a statement to TAP.

He added that this is to "give a boost to the government especially during this period characterised by an explosive social situation and difficult economic situation."

Fitch Ratings, on Friday, affirmed Tunisia’s Long-Term and Local Currency issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at ‘B+’, outlook stable.

The issue ratings on Tunisia’s senior unsecured bonds have also been affirmed at ‘B+’. Fitch has affirmed the Short-Term Foreign- and Local-Currency IDRs at ‘B’ and the Country Ceiling at ‘BB-‘.

After GDP growth of 1.1% in 2016, Fitch projects growth of 2.3% in 2017 and 2.5% in 2018, to be driven by private consumption, a pickup in tourist inflows, and investment. 

Tunisia’s ‘B+’ IDRs with Stable Outlook reflect the high and growing government debt burden and external sector imbalances, relatively high contingent liabilities stemming from weak state-owned enterprises and banks, and limited reform momentum in the context of a fragile social and political context.

Fitch Ratings believes that an improvement in Tunisia's sovereign rating remains dependent on political and social stability, the reduction of the fiscal deficit and the structural improvement of the current account deficit.

Hattab stressed that this rating was published at a time when the various reports issued by credible international bodies consider that "Tunisia is not a stable country, at least on the political side".

In this context, he recalled that "even the position of the IMF in relation to Tunisia remains very vague", in so far as it has not yet decided on unblocking the second instalment of the loan.

He noted, "I think [Fitch Ratings] did not want to press the nail. On the other hand, it has chosen to support Tunisia, through the publication of this mild report, in order to reassure investors, and consequently to boost growth," he said.


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