By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 26 July:
At the official weekly government press conference held at the Prime Minister’s office yesterday, the Minister of Finance, Hassan Zaglam, assured the thuwar, or brigadesmen, that they will receive their outstanding grants.
In February this year, the National Transitional Council (NTC) had decided to pay one-off grants of LD 2,400 to single thuwar and LD 4,000 to married thuwar.
However, due to suspected massive fraud and irregularities, the payments were subsequently suspended. Many alleged bona fida brigadesmen have complained that they were not paid and continue to pressure the authorities (sometimes through the use of force) for the payment of the grant.
Moreover, with the recent General National Congress elections and the natural term of this present government coming to an end, many brigadesmen are worried that they will never receive their grant.
Minister Zaglam wanted to address this issue and explain the government’s policy. He revealed at yesterday’s official press conference that the suspension of payments will continue until the database of claimants could be completed in an accurate manner.
The previous payments had been made via a single cheque through the Military Accounts Dept received by the head of the brigade or company. It was left to this person to distribute the monies accordingly.
However, Minister Zaglam revealed that the government now expects the recipients of these cheques to furnish documentary proof in the form of photocopies of ID cards or family books as evidence that the money had been adequately distributed.
Moreover, the recipients of the cheques shall be held legally responsible and criminally liable for the money they received until proof of final recipients is furnished. Finance Minister Zaglam likened any illegal recipients of money to members of the previous regime who had usurped the Libyan people’s money.
He held all Military Councils and Local Councils, who participated in collating the lists of brigadesmen, equally responsible for inaccurate data and information.
He added that all cities all over Libya had some irregularities in their data, and that it was not confined to any region or city.
Minister Zaglam revealed that the payments for 1,300 brigades had been suspended and that a new system and database was being created, outside the Military Accounts Department’s database. Now, all brigadesmen must fill-in new forms with increased details. Zaglam advised that criminal proceedings should be taken against anyone providing false information.
The Minister admitted that this process will take some time as there are over 700,000 so-called thuwar-brigadesmen claiming payments. There are more than 50 people working on the database, he informed.
He stressed that the government cannot resume payments until the database is complete, but equally stressed that there is no time limit on the payments and that the Libyan government is committed to these payment, whichever administration is in power.
‘We need to understand exactly what the final amount is, so the Libyan public can know the exact amount needed in advance’, Minister Zaglam emphasized. [/restrict]