The Tunisian government hopes to start official negotiations in coming weeks with the International Monetary Fund for a $4 billion loan, its finance minister said, as the country suffers from its worst financial crisis.

Tunisia is seeking the loan to avoid public financial bankruptcy, but it would mean commiting to unpopular reforms, including freezing wages and cutting energy and food subsidies.

The powerful UGTT labor union has rejected such reforms and called for a national strike at public companies and the public service.

During the Davos conference in Switzerland this week, Tunisian Prime Minister Najla Bouden met IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

"The Bouden and Georgieva meeting was fruitful and positive.. The meeting was about the government reform programme, which the fund described as promising", the finance minister Sihem Boughdiri told reporters.

(Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Kim Coghill)