By George Grant.
Tripoli, 19 December:
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said that emergency funds would be transferred to the Benghazi Local Council “in . . .[restrict]a matter of hours” on Wednesday evening, following a meeting with the council’s new president Mahmoud Abu Raziza in Tripoli.
Having discussed the state of public services, it was decided “to allocate financial support to Benghazi Local Council as soon as possible”, Zeidan said. “The money for the Benghazi emergency budget will transferred in a matter of hours or a day.”
The move will help alleviate some of the strains on the Council, which has been terminally short of funds since its formation back in May.
Discussions were also held on the ongoing security crisis in the city, in particular in the wake of Sunday’s deadly attacks on the Benghazi police headquarters.
“We also talked about the budget of 2013” added Raziza, who said that having discussed the emergency situation in the city, “the Prime Minister agreed immediately to financial support to alleviate the suffering in Benghazi.”
Asked by the Libya Herald how much money had been allocated, Zeidan said this was a matter for the council, but the floor was not then offered to Raziza to answer the question.
Last week, councilors Mostafa Sheikhy and Mohamed Al-Mqsbai told this paper that the council had still not received a penny of the LD 241 million emergency budget repeatedly requested under the Kib Government and just LD 16 million out of a total LD 31 million operating budget allocated for 2012.
The men said that the Kib Government had operated a misguided policy of allocating funds only for salaries and expenses whilst refusing to pay for development and reconstruction.
They complained that so desperate had the situation become that they were being forced to use what little funds they had from the operating budget to pay for emergency services.
“We are having difficulties even with that because the auditor cannot approve use of some of the money for emergency situations”, Sheikhy said. “The budget, when it was written, was tasked for specific items, so every time an emergency happens the auditor’s hands are tied. It’s an uphill battle all the time.”