TUNIS - Tunisia said on Saturday it is raising the price of cooking gas cylinders by 14% and fuel by 3% as part of a plan to reduce energy subsidies, a policy change wanted by the country’s international lenders.

The Energy Ministry said the cooking gas price will increase to 8.800 dinars from 7.750 dinars, in the first raise in 12 years.

The gasoline price will be raised on Tuesday to 2.400 dinars per litre from 2.330 dinars, a 3% increase, the ministry said in a statement.

The rise in fuel prices is the fourth this year. Tunisia expects its budget deficit will expand to 9.7% of gross domestic product in 2022, up from a previously expected 6.7%, due to the stronger dollar and a sharp increase in grain and energy prices.

The North Africa country, suffering from its worst financial crisis, is trying to agree on a new financing program with the International Monetary Fund.

The energy balance deficit doubled to 6 billion dinars in the first eight months of 2022 compared with 2.9 billion dinars last year, driven by the impact of the war in Ukraine.

(Reporting By Tareq Amara; Writing by Tareq Amara and Moaz Abd-Alaziz; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler)