By Sami Zaptia.
London, 5 February 2020:
The Second Libyan Real Estate Development Forum opened in the first of its two-day programme in Tunis today. The morning session on the role of urban planning rules and regulations threw up contrarian views on sequencing and how best to move forward in the short term.
Day one focused on the role of new urban development plans in developing the sector where some participants criticised the Libyan Urban Planning Authority for failing to provide the foundation for the development of Libya’s real estate sector. One example was the fact that Libya’s National Planning Council’s Libya 2040 Vision, which includes a vision to improve urban planning, but the plan has not been implemented since 2013.
Those holding the view that current rules and regulations need to be changed or updated as a prerequisite to the sector developing say that the legacy laws represented the socialist regime prior to 2011 and that the new post 2011 Libya needs rules and laws that reflect the new political philosophy and outlook which enshrines and prioritises the private sector. They argued the Qaddafi regime implemented decrees without prior planning whereas post 2011 every citizen is claiming property appropriated by the state as theirs.
Others blame the impotence of successive post 2011 Libyan governments for the lack of progress in the sector. Husni Bey, Chairman of the Beysons Group, for example, lamented the fact that Libyan banks sit on over LD 105 bn of private sector deposits which are uninvested and looking for a safe and secure destination to invest in.
This, he added, has led to 70 percent of buildings in Libya being unplanned constructions – outside the official urban plan – because there has not been a comprehensive Libyan urban plan since 1978. The state was only concerned with urban plans for the public sector and not for the then unrecognized and discouraged private sector – under the Qaddafi regime.
However, Bey adds, the state had and has failed in its own projects and has no funds available for development in general and for the real estate sector. He notes that 60 percent of Libyan non-oil development is in the real estate sector and only the private sector can succeed in developing the sector and for this it needs an urban plan.
However, Bey disagrees with the view that the sector cannot move forward until new sector legislation is enshrined. He says that view is used as an excuse for inaction and the status quo. He insists that there are ample existing laws – of various quality – that are unimplemented that would allow the sector to move forward. He insisted that this vital sector cannot wait until legislatures enshrine new laws and said the sector must utilise existing laws (such as investment law no 9 of 2010) which enable the private sector to invest.
The forum continues in its final day tomorrow.