By Libya Herald reporter.
Malta, 26 January 2015:
There was confusion in Tripoli . . .[restrict]today as the Audit Bureau reversed its decision of five days ago instructing all banks in Libya to freeze the accounts of all government agencies.
The Tripoli-based Audit Bureau had instructed all banks to credit any balances in any government accounts into the General Public Account at the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) (account number 190031). Today, the Audit Bureau seems to have reversed that decision, instructing banks to release monies in those accounts.
The reason that had been given by the Audit Bureau for the freeze is for reasons of oversight and to fight the waste of public funds.
The Audit Bureau had said that the freeze was also to apply to the disbursement of February state-sector salaries and that all government transactions had to first receive its approval and would only be disbursed after all monies in accounts had been returned to the General Public Account at the CBL.
It is not clear why the Audit Bureau has quickly reversed its decision to freeze all government bank accounts. There was some speculation that banks would not carry out the Audit Bureau’s instructions unless ordered by a court ruling.
There was a fear that obtaining a court ruling would have taken a long time to obtain, which would have defeated the Audit Bureau’s stated aim of quickly fixing Libya’s ailing public finances.
The Audit Bureau had also pronounced earlier in January that it would also only sanction the disbursement of February’s state-sector salaries through the use of the National ID Number. It is not clear if all the government departments would have been able to bureaucratically organize the implementation of the National ID Number in such a short period of time.
It will be recalled that the sector thought to duplicate salaries the most is the security sector: the militias. An attempt to confront the militias by enforcing the National ID Number was thought to be fraught with danger.
There is also speculation that a freeze on all government accounts might have led to a delay in the payment of state-sector salaries, which in turn may have led to general public agitation.
This decision, it is worth keeping in mind, has been issued by the Tripoli-based Audit Bureau that is recognized by the GNC/Libya Dawn faction, but not by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives and its Abdullah Thinni-led government in Beida. The Beida-based government has appointed its own Audit Bureau head. [/restrict]