Continuing his flurry of reactionary decrees: Serraj creates new Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction
By Sami Zaptia.
London, 2 September 2020:
In a continuation of his flurry of recent decrees, Faiez Serraj, Prime Minister of the internationally recognized Libyan government in Tripoli, yesterday decreed (Decree 579/2020) the formation of the Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction.
Another decree (Decree 580/2020) appointed Ali Nigasa as its Minister while another (581/2020) abolished the former General Housing Authority. All moveable and immovable assets and staff of the former Authority are transferred to the new Ministry.
The move is seen as regressive by many critics. It can be seen as an attempt by Serraj to integrate his other recent decrees into a coherent policy, notably the one to retrain unemployed university graduates and offer them government jobs.
It may also be seen in the hope that Turkish companies do eventually return and resume their Libya stalled construction projects. Serraj may hope to use this and the new Housing and Reconstruction Ministry to reactivate the economy and soak up youth anger on the street.
The move is seen by critics as further reaction by Serraj to the demonstrations, suppressed by militias loyal to him and that led to his suspension of his Interior Minister, Fathi Bashagha. It is seen as a belated attempt to affect some change, or to be seen to be taking action, five years into his job.
He is criticised for continuing to create new state bureaucracy and centralize, rather than decentralize and activate the private sector. He is being criticized for using old Qaddafi-era tools for new post-Qaddafi era problems – even though these tools failed miserably over 42 years.
The move also seems at odds with his recent decentralization of some powers to Municipalities.
Critics say these decrees can be seen as the last rites of a dying administration attempting to throw dust in the eyes of its citizens in the hope of distracting them from political turmoil and their bitter everyday reality of; petrol, diesel and cooking gas shortages, cash at banks crisis, electricity and water cuts, a spiralling Coronavirus outbreak, poor healthcare, with no clear strategy or hope going forward.