By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 10 May:
A forum and exhibition entitled ‘The role of the Libyan Private Sector in Building Libya’ was held . . .[restrict]at the Rixos Al-Naser hotel 9-10 May.
The event was strongly sponsored by the NTC, the Ministries of Housing and Infrastructure, Planning, Transport, Labour, and Economy. It was organized by Libya’s Contractors’ Union.
Dr Ali Shagloof, head of the Libyan Contractors’ Union opened the event saying that ‘this sector suffered from the old regime which nationalized all its activities and assets. It set up fake so-called construction companies and the sector has never recovered’.
‘The revolution also had its effect on the companies in this sector. Today and after the Great 17th February Revolution, the private sector has a new role to play. We hope that the new Libya will appreciate our vital role and that there is a change in culture in dealing with the private construction sector, especially when it comes to payment – a process the old regime exploited for its corrupt practices’.
‘We hope to see that local private sector companies will get their fair share of the projects in the New Libya. We do not want the government to look only to foreign companies as if there are absolutely no capabilities within Libya’.
Sulieman Fortia of the NTC felt that ‘this was a sector that was damaged and marginalized by the old regime’. He asked ‘of the US$ 170 billion worth of contracts given out by the previous regime, how much was given to Libyan companies?’
He then emphasized that Libya ‘needed safety and security first prior to construction. Yes we need to cooperate with foreign partners – but Libyan companies should be first. There are more than 40 nationalities or companies clamoring to get into Libya to get compensation – asking for unbelievable rates of compensation in tens of billions’.
‘It is approximated that 60-70% of these projects are a failure – but we inherited them and we are bound to them contractually’, he concluded.
Minister of Planning Issa Twejer felt that ‘the sector was prevented from operating properly, which was a great loss to Libya in favour of middlemen and companies with no experience simply acting as commission agents. How could Libya not even benefit at least in terms of training with projects worth US$ 170 billion?’ he asked.
‘How come we were not even able to train or employ the many Libyans without work?’ Highlighting Libya’s over dependency on overseas knowhow and technology, the Minister then said, ‘here we are, waiting for the foreign companies who left to return.’
Looking up at the gathered members of the contracting and construction sector he said ‘this is your role. It is now your chance to perform. You will have a pivotal role in building Libya. The Ministry of Planning is drafting strategic plans for Libya in which the private sector has to play a great role’, the Minister concluded.
The meeting then broke up to view the exhibition of about 30 construction, contracting and building materials companies exhibiting at the show. [/restrict]