By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 8 June 2013:
Challenged by a leading Libyan businessman about compensation for land expropriated by the Qaddafi regime to . . .[restrict]build some of his showpiece projects on, the Housing and Infrastructure Board’s (HIB) Chairman Mahmoud Ajaj said that there are two committees studying compensation to Libyan landowners whose land is being built upon.
HIB Chairman Mahmoud Ajaj was speaking at last week’s MEED “Projects Libya 2013”, held in Tripoli.
The question by the Libyan businessman stood out as most talk of compensation during the speeches and debates was regarding the compensation of foreign contracting companies.
Whilst most Libyans accept that it is within the powers of any incumbent government to forcibly buy land legally for “public good” or “national interest” projects, such as roads, railways, schools, hospitals etc, they question whether shopping malls qualify as public projects as opposed to being purely commercial projects.
On the other hand, many Libyans question the legality of the former dictatorial state having the right to set prices of compensation. They feel prices should have reflected market value and should have been set by an independent committee.
Equally, those aggrieved by the former regime’s policy are particularly vexed by the former regime forcibly buying land at one low price, and then selling it to joint venture partners or subsidiaries at another highly inflated price.
In response, HIB Chairman Mahmoud Ajaj said that his agency is purely an implementation agency that had no authority to decide or act in the issues of the veracity of the ownership of land his agency was implementing projects on. [/restrict]