By Sami Zaptia.
London, 14 May 2016:
Members of the boards of both the Tripoli and Beida-based Central Banks of Libya (CBL) met . . .[restrict]in Tunisia on Thursday.
While members of technical teams from both branches have met in Istanbul and Tunisia with IMF/World Bank staff, it is believed that this is the first time that board members have met – openly at least.
It is definitely the first time that the so-called Governors of both branches – Saddek Elkaber and Salem Hibri – have openly met let alone posed for a joint photograph since they chose to represent opposing political sides. Hibri was Elkabber’s former deputy in Tripoli.
The meeting was reported by a House of Representatives (HoR) member to have been organized by the HoR Finance Committee. However, the two boards also held a meeting Friday with Faiez Serraj and his Presidency Council/Government of National Accord (PC/GNA) member Fathi Mejibri.
It will be recalled that Faiez Serraj and the PC/GNA have already met with both Governors and that the Tripoli CBL was one of the first Tripoli-based institutions to recognize the PC/GNA upon its arrival at its Bu Sitta Naval Base on 30th March.
Unsurprisingly, reports from Tunis say that the main aim of the meeting, which was described as ‘‘positive’’, was to find tangible solutions to the cash shortage crises and the low black market value of the Libyan dinar against hard currencies.
The urgency in attempting to solve Libya’s economic crises are even the more pressing as the fasting month of Ramadan approaches in the first week of June.
If food prices are deemed too high, the black market dollar exchange rate persists above the LD 4 mark and citizens are unable to withdraw cash to spend during Ramadan, this could prove a significant knock to the confidence in and legitimacy of Serraj and his PC/GNA.
At Friday’s meeting, Serraj listened to an update from the two banks on the latest steps taken to alleviate the current financial crises. Also further urgent steps were agreed. No details were made available by the PC/GNA. A date and place for the next meeting was also set in order to follow up and review the situation.
It will be recalled that the CBL has constantly insisted that it is a technical monetary institution at arm’s length from Libya’s polarized political conflict. A united front by both CBL branches would benefit Libya.
However, the eastern administration has complained that the Tripoli CBL has not been equitable in its dealings with the east, accusing it of starving it of money and cash. The Tripoli CBL denies this.
A UN report, however, has maintained that the Tripoli CBL has not been able to be neutral being under the influence of the Tripoli-based militias.
Notably, neither of the two banks have so far chosen to post the above joint photo taken in Tunisia on their websites/social media sites. [/restrict]