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Tunisia's Prime Minister-designate Youssef Chahed speaks during a news conference after his meeting with Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi (not pictured) in Tunis, Tunisia August 20, 2016. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

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TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed is cutting all his ministers' salaries by 30 percent, the government said on Friday, as part of a symbolic move to trim public spending.

This step could be likely a preparation for the announcement of austerity measures which the prime minister vowed to take if Tunisia’s economic difficulties continue this year.

The North African state is struggling with lower tourism revenues after two Islamist militant attacks on foreign tourists last year hit what is one of its key industries. Strikes and protests for jobs have also hurt the country's phosphate production. The government expected the budget deficit to widen by 2.9 billion dinars (992.26 million pounds) to 6.5 billion dinars by year-end.

The government will cut the salaries for each of his 40 ministers and junior ministers, who earn around $1,800 a month, by about $500 per month.

A government official said that the next step would likely be to reduce bonuses for senior officials in the public sector.

Chahed last month said that all Tunisians must share the sacrifices needed to revive the struggling economy.

He has promised his new government will take tough decisions to help the economy grow and create jobs as Tunisia comes under pressure from international lenders to push through reforms and reduce public spending.

At 13.5 percent of GDP, Tunisia's public sector wage bill is proportionately one of the highest in the world.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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