The Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba-led Libyan government held what it referred to as an expanded meeting today at the Cabinet Office on the controversy of fuel purchases by the National Oil Corporation (NOC) through a barter system.
The meeting included the head of the NOC, Farhat Bengdara, representatives of the Audit Bureau, the advisor to the Governor of the Central Bank of Libya, Mustafa Al-Manea, a representative of the Ministry of Finance, and the Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs.
The government reported that the meeting was devoted to ‘‘discussing the observations received from the Audit Bureau regarding the fuel file and developing mechanisms for providing it in a transparent and restricted manner and considering the challenges and efforts made by the National Oil Corporation.’’
It added that the meeting ‘‘concluded that it is necessary to ensure the provision of petrol and gas in a practical way, while setting accounting controls and restrictions for the measures taken to provide the required quantities’’.
It will be recalled that earlier this month, Libya’s Audit Bureau sent a letter to the NOC instructing it to stop the barter system in importing fuels from international fuel refineries.
In response, the NOC protested the Audit Bureau’s instructions, considering its implementation would lead to a shortage of petrol and diesel.
NOC official detained for sub-standard fuel imports
The Audit Bureau’s move comes on the back of the Public Prosecutor’s Office ordering the detention of the NOC official at its Supply Department, pending investigation, on charges of misusing state funds.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office said the accused was involved in concluding fuel supply contracts that do not guarantee the maintenance of the public interest, and that he imported quantities of sub-standard fuel that caused damage to citizens’ cars.
Sub-standard petrol reportedly caused damage to cars
In May last year, several citizens in Tripoli, Benghazi and Sebha reported that their cars suffered technical malfunctions after refuelling with petrol from petrol stations, without knowing the reasons for the malfunction at the time. Overnight Libyan social media trended with ‘‘fake fuel’’ allegations. The Public Prosecutor’s Office announced on the 5 May 2022 the opening of an investigation into the allegations.
Independent commentators consider barter system incorrect or illegal
Several independent-of-government commentators that Libya Herald spoke to about the import of fuel through the barter system using crude oil said the procedure was incorrect or illegal. The barter system is also criticised for distorting the CBL regular data bulletins and concealing the government’s true spending figures.