By Sami Zaptia.
London, 17 May 2018:
In its ongoing tit-for-tat political power struggle with the Presidency Council (PC) and the Audit Bureau and in its efforts to deflect any blame by public opinion, the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) has blamed any food shortages or price rises in the fasting month of Ramadan (which started today) on the Audit Bureau.
The Audit Bureau had released a similar statement on the same day blaming the PC for delays in processing import payment facilities associated with the PC’s decree 505 (2018).
In a statement released Tuesday – two days before the start of the holy fasting month when there is peak consumption of foodstuffs such as milk and soft drinks – the CBL pointed out that it had taken initiatives as early as the end of 2017 through numerous official letters and meetings with relevant official entities warning of the beginnings of a crisis in shortages of foodstuffs and increased prices.
It said that the PC responded to this warning by issuing decree 363 (2018) for the import of essential goods, which the CBL had agreed to implement in order to relieve the burden on Libyan citizens.
However, the intervention of the Audit Bureau (Libya’s financial oversight body) on 28 March had led to the suspension of this decree.
One of the contributing factors for the ongoing political tug-of-war between the Tripoli-based CBL and the Tripoli-based Audit Bureau is the political and legitimacy vacuum caused by Libya’s political split and weakness of institutions.
It will be recalled that both the CBL and Audit Bureau do not fall under the control of the Tripoli executive – the Faiez Serraj-led Presidency Council. Their heads are appointed by the Libyan parliament – the House of Representatives in (HoR) Tobruk. The relative weakness of the HoR and its inability to enforce its decrees in western Libya has left a vacuum for both the CBL and Audit Bureau – which has led to their ongoing battle to establish boundaries of responsibility.