By Sami Zaptia.
London, 2 August 2016:
The Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya (CBL) has responded to the accusation by the Tripoli-based Audit Bureau that it had wasted public funds in its drive to make staple foods available, reduce high prices, make cash available at banks and maintain the value of the dinar during the fasting month of Ramadan.
The CBL in coordination with the Faiez Serraj-led Presidency Council/Government of National Accord (PC/GNA) had made Cash Against Document payment facilities worth US$ 1.17 bn available for the import of staple foods in time for the peak demand month of Ramadan.
However, the Audit Bureau criticized the measures as wasteful, saying that they had failed to meet their specific aims. It said that businesses had failed deposit their takings into their bank accounts in order to increase cash liquidity at banks.
The Bureau said that there was indeed no notable benefit for the Libyan citizen as a result of the increased foreign currency import facilities made available for business at the official exchange rate of about LD 1.40/dollar as opposed to the black market rate of around LD 5/dollar.
It also criticized the CBL for acting unilaterally, in the vacuum left by the two ministries, which together had led to the waste of this money to the ‘‘benefit of opportunists’’ in the absence of the state in controlling its borders.
However, in its response today, the CBL said that its response will be in the ‘‘language of numbers’’ and that it operates under controls that prevent the waste of public funds.
The CBL said that although it had granted approval for over a billion dollars of facilities within a limited timeframe, only US$ 330 million of the import payment facility were actually taken up by importers.
It disagreed with the Audit Bureau’s assessment that the measures had failed to achieve their stated aims. The CBL said that its measures were not haphazard and ineffective. It felt that the measures had reduced the burden on the citizen which can be seen in the market place. This can be seen reflected in the availability and prices of flour, corn oil, sugar, tomato paste, imported lamb meat, as well as other products.
The CBL revealed that it had proposed to the Presidency Council/Government of National Accord in June the necessary conditions appropriate for a devaluation of the Libyan dinar.
It concluded that it had made great efforts to reduce the burden on the Libyan citizen and to reduce corruption and the waste of public funds in difficult circumstances and often under pressure and in difficult circumstances.