By Libya Herald reporters.
Tunis, 28 December 2016:
In what is said to be an attempt to curb property prices, Tunisia is banning Libyans from buying up development land and stopping the purchase of any property worth less than TD 200,000 ($85,000).
Land registrar Jamel Ayari told the TAP news agency that the move was designed to prevent speculation and stop prices being driven up, which would ultimately affect the cost of social housing.
Ayari said that the new rules were not being backdated. As long ago as 1961 Libya and Tunisia agreed on freedom of movement and the right to buy property. However, Libyans still had to have the persmision of the local governor to buy a property. This was revoked by the Tunisian government two months ago.
It is unclear what has prompted these new rules. The government in Tunis regularly claimed that there were more than a million Libyans living in the country, who had either fled the 2011 revolution or the subsequent collapse in security. However, an August 2015 an official survey put the number of Libyans in Tunisia at no more than 250,000.
Visa-free travel for Libyans has continued despite some thoughts last year that visas might be imposed. Thus many Libyans who do not bother to register in Tunisia are unlikely to show up in official figures.
The figure for Libyans living more or less permanently in Tunisia is currently therefore estimated at around 750,000. Were they to start buying property in large numbers it would affect prices.