Tunisian economy to grow 3.5%

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Tunisia's economy is on course to grow by 3.5 per cent this year, confirming the country's recovery from the crisis triggered by last year's uprising, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said Saturday.

The economy shrank by 1.85 per cent last year, in the wake of the uprising that ousted longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The situation has begun to look up since the Ennahda party, which espouses a moderate brand of Islam, came to power in elections late last year. Tunisia has also received millions of dollars in loans and aid from the European Union, World Bank and African Development Bank.

Tourism revenue grew 36 per cent in the first four months of 2012 and foreign direct investment shot up 19.3 per cent, Jebali told a conference on the preparation of this year's budget.

Jebali said the priority for the country, which lives mainly off tourism and agriculture, was to consolidate the budget and invest in value-added activities. The government aimed to create 75,000 jobs over the year, he said.

High unemployment was one of the main factors behind the uprising against Ben Ali - the first uprising in the Arab Spring. - Sapa-dpa


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