Priority will be given to Egyptian companies in the reconstruction of Libya, Osama Hamad, the Libyan minister of finance in the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) told state-owned news agency MENA on Saturday.
Hamad emphasised his eagerness to strengthen economic relations with Egypt as well as promote bilateral investments, explaining that a joint higher committee between the two countries will be formed in January 2018 and that he will head a technical committee within the framework of the higher committee.
“Egyptian companies have the ability to accomplish anything, and this is what we’ve seen in our visit to the Suez Canal Economic Zone during our tour,” Hamad said, adding that he would submit a report to Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, head of the GNA.
Earlier in 2012, the Libyan government announced that Egyptian companies will take part in $9bn worth of projects in Libya’s reconstruction. The share of Egyptian real estate companies alone was reported to be $5bn, with Orascom and Hassan Allam Holding being the most prominent names in the list of companies participating in the reconstruction.
Hamad headed the Libyan delegation that participated in the Africa 2017 forum that took place in Sharm El-Sheikh, where he met with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, to discuss the political and economic situation in Libya. In addition, he met with Egypt’s Finance Minister Amr El-Garhy and Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Governor Tarek Amer to discuss cooperation in various monetary and financial issues between the two countries
Moreover, Hamad explained that the decline in Libya’s economic situation is due to political division, which has led traders and investors to lose their confidence in banks and personally storing liquidity, which confuses the banking system.
Consequently, Libya’s economy was exhausted and inflation was on the rise, said Hamad. He added that his government is hoping for recovery with the stabilisation of the political situation, since the Libyan state has strong economic resources that can accelerate the pace of economic recovery.
Libya currently has a budget deficit due to the decline in oil production in the first four months of 2017, to reach around 150,000 barrels per day. However, current oil production has risen to 1.1 million barrels per day, which will allow the country to balance their budget in 2018.
Before the 2011 Libyan civil war, the country produced 1.6 million barrels per day and accumulated more than $100bn in reserves.
With regard to the control of oil fields in Libya, the country’s main source of national income, the minister said that oil is one of the sovereign revenues of the Libyan state and its price stability is an important indicator of the development of the national economy. He stressed that no one can interfere with or control it, except the current legitimate government (the GNA) that emerged after a political agreement, as well as the presence of the Libyan army, which protects those oil fields, the revenues of which return to the central bank and are then diverted to the public treasury.
In March, leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar—who is backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates—recaptured Libya’s oil crescent ports (Ras Lanuf, Al-Sidra, Zueitina, and Brega), which in turn led to Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC)’s immediate resumption of exports of stored crude oil.
When asked about the integration of former militias in the government, he said that all the forces that existed before the reconciliation government now follow the Interior Ministry and the army and have joined state institutions.
Furthermore, Hamad asked members of the former regime to return to Libya and achieve the country’s reunification, stressing that there is no difference between the east, the west, and the south; that all of Libya is one state with a single government and a single central bank which distributes funds to all Libyans.
In regards to Skhirat agreement, which is set to expire today, 17 December, Hamad explained that the GNA aims to hold elections, adding that Al-Sarraj has announced that as long as the political crisis has not been resolved, the agreement still holds.