By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, March 20: Libya’s record-breaking LD 68.5 billion budget gives the Ministry of Culture and Civil Society (MCCS) a . . .[restrict]total of LD 265 million, LD 130 million of which goes to wages.
On the remaining LD135 million, LD 86 million is allocated specifically under the column the ‘Ministry of Culture and Civil Society’. This allocates 58 million for wages and a balance of LD 28 million.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) will be hoping that the Ministry will start to distribute some money to them if it is to keep to its statements in the Transitional Constitution that CSOs and NGOs are an important part of a healthy democracy.
The Press Support Authority, meanwhile, gets LD 16 million in the MCCS budget. It will be interesting to see if the authorities continue to provide printing for the 100 plus newspapers in western Libya, and a similar number in the east, at the subsidized rate. The government presses have often either ran short or run out of paper, causing delays in the printing of newspapers. The General Company for Paper and Printing, which supplies the paper and prints these newspapers, is allocated LD 46 million.
The authority, which operates a plethora of the state owned television stations including the LRT, Libya Al-Wataniya and Libya Television, is allocated LD 82 million. Libya’s official news agency, LANA/WAL, is given LD 6.8 million, and the official radio stations some LD 3 million.
In the new democratic era of free expression and a free media, it was very interesting and heartening to see that the authorities allocated LD 11 million for the New Media Training and Development Centre.
Whilst it might not be realistic to expect all 200 plus newspapers to survive in a country with a population of only six million, and the inevitable shakedown that will come with a competitive media market place, it is hoped that funding for training and development might produce a strong and qualitative media sector. It is widely agreed that its strength and quality are vital for a vibrant and healthy democracy. [/restrict]