Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s announced during a diplomatic visit with his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied that Algeria will make a security deposit of US$150 million at the Central Bank of Tunisia. It will help Tunisia to obtain loans from the international financial institutions. The decision incited fierce criticism by Algerians, perplexed that the government would make such a significant investment outside of the country at a time when Algeria is struggling to keep its economy afloat.
The former governor of the Bank of Algeria, upon his departure last week, warned that the country’s foreign exchange reserves had decreased drastically since a global drop in the oil price in 2014. Currently at US$62 billion, the reserves are expected to fall even further to US$51.6 billion by year’s end, a massive decrease compared with its national high of US$195 billion in 2014.
Algerians took to social media to criticize the government’s actions, acknowledging that improving relations with its neighbor Tunisia is important but saying the Algerian people are in greater need of such funds. Algeria’s lack of funds has hindered its ability to fund health and education services; pay civil servants’ salaries; and address its high youth unemployment rate, which stands at 26.4 percent for those under 30, who make up two-thirds of Algeria’s total population.