By Sami Zaptia.
London, 19 July 2019:
The head and members of the Libya’s High Advisory Committee for Treatment (Abroad) submitted their collective resignation yesterday in protest at the interference of the Tripoli Central Bank of Libya (CBL), the Tripoli Health Ministry reported yesterday.
The move is rare in Libya where holders of state positions rarely hand in their resignation. The move is seen as a symbolic protest and it is unlikely that their resignations will be accepted.
One very highly placed health official in Tripoli told Libya Herald yesterday that the members of the committee are highly qualified and respected. He said they had worked hard over the last year to put in place a new neutral and effective mechanism that would reduce corruption and nepotism in the historically much abused state-financed treatment abroad process.
The mechanism is seen as a good effort and the CBL had not made any official protests or comments about its introduction. It also did not give the new system a trail period to prove or disprove its effectiveness.
The Committee’s request for their collective resignation comes, they say, in protest against the suffering of patients sent for treatment abroad in Germany, Tunisia and Egypt after the failure of the Tripoli CBL to implement and transfer financial health allocations to them.
The Committee considered the failure by the Tripoli CBL to transfer health allocations a “clear interference in the ministry’s terms of reference and a reflection of the administrative corruption resulting from abuse of jurisdiction.” In other words, political interferences and abuse of divisions of power.
The incident is a prime example of the omnipotence of the Tripoli CBL post 2011 headed by Saddek El-Kaber and Tarik Yousef Magarief.
Critics say these two have hijacked the Tripoli CBL to run it as a duopoly, taking advantage of the power and legitimacy vacuum in Libya post 2011.
It will be recalled that the Tripoli CBL is accountable to the country’s parliament, the House of Representatives, based far away in Tobruk.
The Tripoli CBL have taken advantage of the political division between eastern and western Libya to act as an independent agency.
El-Kaber and Magarief have refused to hold a full board meeting with eastern-based board members and El-Kaber has refused to step down despite being dismissed by parliament.
They have also taken advantage of Tripoli’s very weak internationally-recognized Presidency Council and Government of National Accord led by Faiez Serraj.
In reality, the CBL is supposed to acquiesce to Tripoli’s executive when it comes to political decisions on how money is spent.
However, in the face of no oversight or deterent in the weak post revolutionary Libya, El-Kaber and Magarief have chosen make themselves as the self-appointed custodians of Libya’s wealth and finances.
However, on many occassion they have insisted that they are a technocratic, monetary/financial institution at arms length from Libya’s political tug-of-war.
The reality, however, is that they have had a huge monolithic hand in deciding Libya’s spending policy – political policy -since 2011.
The resignation of the treatment abroad committee came in response to the suffering of patients despite the completion of health abroad approvals and technical conditions.
As a result of the mass resignation, the Tripoli Ministry of Health yesterday also announced the complete suspension of treatment abroad and advised citizens who receive treatment approvals abroad not to travel because their treatment allowances may not be met.
The members of the Committee have apologized to all Libyan patients, blaming those who are responsible (the Tripoli CBL) for the lack of implementation of Health Ministry and Tripoli government policy.
They also hold the CBL legally liability for any complications or problems that occur to patients due to the failure to implement the required treatments on time.
The Committee said that they were forced to resign because of the failure to implement the treatment procedures for patients sent abroad despite the completion of approvals and conditions, and despite the approval of both the Audit Bureau and the Ministry of Finance.
Moreover, they said that the CBL stopped the process despite the organization of the treatment process “in a scientific way based on technical statistics and an electronic archiving system and for the first time in 5 years the electronic archiving system is implemented in the countries of treatment abroad.”
They praised the new system and procedures for the “level of professionalism in providing treatment opportunities” and “the number of reforms that have taken place in this file”
This comes after the limiting of state-financed treatment to the countries of Germany, Tunisia, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Austria and China.
The Committee expressed their regret as a result of “the failure of the treatment system and the failure of the implementation of its outcomes, leading to the return of patients to the point of zero and their resort to (the previous) chaos and nepotism as a result of lack of access to treatment through the official methods of systematic and state guarantees.”
The Committee also pointed out that their resignation was the result of a legal consultation that stipulates that they hold part of the responsibility after the deterioration of the health condition of many patients in Tunisia who are threatening legal action.
Some analysts put the CBL failure to finance treatment abroad to a fall in Libya’s oil revenues while money has had to be transferred to fight the war launched by Khalifa Hafter on Tripoli since 4 April.
At the time of publishing the media unresponsive Tripoli CBL had made no official comment.