By Sami Zaptia.
London, 11 February 2021:
The Tripoli Audit Bureau has criticised the (now outgoing caretaker) Serraj government in failing to live up to its promise to reduce spending on diplomatic missions abroad.
It pointed out that total expenditures on diplomatic missions abroad in 2019 amounted to 311 million dinars, an increase of 10 million dinars on 2018. Expenditure on salaries exceeded 234 million dinars.
It pointed out that the decrease in spending in the salaries section did not reach 10 percent despite the Serraj Government’s decision to reduce salaries in these missions by 31 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions abroad increased from 138 in 2018 to 150 in 2019.
The Audit Bureau reported that it had monitored a multiplicity of Libyan missions in one country, until the number of missions reached five in the same country.
Yesterday, the Audit Bureau announced that it had requested the Serraj Ministry of Foreign Affairs to suspend its decision (No. 640/2020) to dispatch 171 Foreign Ministry employees to work in Libyan embassies, missions, and consulates.
The Audit Bureau called on the Foreign Ministry to provide it with the following procedures:
– The Ministry’s plan for the current year and its vacancies
– Staffing at Libyan missions and consulates abroad
– The Ministry’s plan regarding reducing the number of Libyan missions and consulates abroad
– The entities those covered by the decision come under and the extent to which their qualifications are in line with the jobs they were delegated to
– Basic data for those covered by the decision
– The adequacy of the approved financial allocations in particular
– A copy of the minutes of the dispatching affairs committee
With Libyans suffering from a myriad of problems including decreasing spending power, increased prices, cash, fuel and cooking gas shortages, high black-market foreign exchange rates and a lack of security, the Serraj government sought to adopt the high moral ground by implementing some spending cuts.
This it did by announcing a 20 percent cut on salaries, including for leading government positions. However, postings abroad are still seen as the golden handshake and jobs for the boys. They have been used as a thank you for loyal servants. The postings pay in hard currency with generous living allowances. Competition for them is high.
However, Libyans have long questioned why Libya needed so many foreign missions abroad during times of austerity and an interim government. The revelation that under the Serraj administration, not only has it failed as promised to cut missions abroad, but that they have increased will be met with incredulity by the Libyan public.