Tunis meeting on economic reform and GNA funding fails to make significant headway.

By Hadi Fornaji.

Tunis, 2 April 2017:

Hopes of a breakthrough in dealing with Libya’s economic crisis were unfulfilled at a meeting of top economic figures last week in Tunis. However, reports of clashes and that the Central Bank of Libya, the Audit Bureau and members of the Presidency Council and its government of national unity were told to go away and then come back with more concrete proposals to solve Libya’s financial crisis have been denied by some observers taking part.

The meeting last Thursday and Friday in Tunis was a follow-up to process started at the October London conference aimed at finding solutions to Libya’s economic crisis. Issues such as removing subsidies and possible devaluation of the dinar were among those on the agenda last week.

Among others attending were Presidency Council member Fathi Majbri who has responsibility for finance, GNA Planning Minister Taher Al-Juhaimi, Finance Minister Osama Hamad Saleh, Audit Bureau head Khaled Shakshak and Central Bank of Libya governor Saddek Elkaber together with his assistant Tarek Yousef Magarief and CBL advisor Mohamed Abusneina. Others included officials from the General Union of Chambers of Commerce and the International Monetary Fund plus a small group of foreign diplomats.

Criticism of the meeting and of the participants has come in particular from the union of chambers of commerce. In a statement, it said that steps had to be taken to deal with the collapsing economy, “even if they are strict” and that moves to stabilise prices had to be carried out urgently.

The union also said there had to be an “adjustment” in the value of the dinar soon – a move that central bank is resisting.

While denying that the meeting had been a failure or that there was bickering between those present, officials admitted that there had been “personal issues” between some of those at the meeting.

Despite the calls for urgent action, no date has been fixed for the next meeting.

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