TUNIS, March 3 (Reuters) - The European Investment Bank, the financing arm of the European Union, said on Thursday it would increase lending to Tunisia this year by 600 million euros to help its economy during a delicate transition to democracy.
EIB’s vice president Philippe de Fontaine Vive told Reuters after meeting members of the interim government in Tunis that the additional loans would bring total lending to the North African country to around 1.8 billion euros ($2.51 billion) in 2011.
The bank had already pledged loans worth 1.2 billion euros before veteran president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted a month and a half ago.
“There are projects that need additional support and the EIB is committed to supporting Tunisia’s economy in this historic phase,” said de Fontaine Vive, referring to the construction of a new chemical plant in the south of the country and to plans to modernise Tunisia’s road infrastructure.
Tunisia has been struggling to restore stability since Ben Ali, who had been in power for 23 years, fled to Saudi Arabia in January after a wave of anti-government protests.
Reporting by Tarek Amara