By Sami Zaptia.
London, 8 May 2020:
Libya’s Tripoli based Audit Bureau reported that it had held a video conference with the UN’s Libya Experts Panel last Wednesday (6 May) and discussed the following four subjects:
- Requirements for the completion of the international audit of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) and the importance of observing local laws.
- The way in which public funds are spent and the requirements for achieving social justice in public spending.
- Regulatory operations carried out by the Audit Bureau on sovereign institutions in particular the CBL and the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA).
- The importance of providing international support and cooperation with the Audit Bureau to support it in achieving effective control over public funds.
It will be recalled that one of the major grievances by eastern Libya against Tripoli is the perception, rightly or wrongly, that more of Libya’s oil money is spent on western Libya than on the east.
The east accuses the Tripoli CBL of being corrupt and of, directly or indirectly, funding western militias, Islamists and extremists. These grievances, as well as others, have been exploited, leveraged and used to agitate some of the populous in the east and partly justify the current military campaign against Tripoli.
Equally, Faiez Serraj, the internationally-recognised prime minister of Libya had called upon the UN in 2018 to organise an independent audit of both the Tripoli and eastern CBL’s prior to any reunification of the two branches.
In July 2019, the UN had announced that it was reopening the tender bidding process for the financial audit review of the two branches of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL).
It said that the current tender was being issued openly after the closed bidding process, which was launched in early 2019 and ended in April, did not produce a contract with one of the Big Four auditing firms.
UNSMIL had said that restoring confidence, promoting transparency, and supporting the reunification of Libya’s financial and economic institutions are crucial to Libya’s stability and the prosperity. It had added that it remained committed to facilitating a financial audit review of the two branches of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) as requested by Prime Minister Sarraj in 2018.
It will be recalled that the then Secretary General’s Special Representative and UNSMIL head, Ghassan Salamé, had convened the governors of the two branches on two separate occasions in 2018 in order to agree the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the financial audit review. The international financial institutions were also consulted during the process.
On 23 July 2019, the United Nations Office for Project Service (UNOPS), at the request of UNSMIL, re-opened the bidding process for a financial audit review of the two branches of the CBL. The tendering process was to remain open for three weeks after which the UN would select the best offer based on international standards after having consulted the two CBL branches. The tender was based on a Terms of Reference (TOR) for the audit review agreed upon by the two governors of the two CBL branches.
UNSMIL had said that it intends to conduct the financial audit review in a collaborative manner with the objective of creating greater transparency and the conditions for eventual unification of the CBL. It said that this is an extraordinary process intended to lay the basis for restoring financial integrity, accountability, and public confidence and enable Libyan institutions to resume their normal functions and capacities.