By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 23 July:
Turkish construction companies are to be paid “immediately” half of the money owed them for suspended projects . . .[restrict]in Libya, according to Turkey’s Economy Minister Zafer Chaglayan.
However, the precise figure involved is not yet clear. At the start of the revolution, $1.4 billion of contractual payments was owed to Turkish firms. Earlier this year interim prime minister Abdurrahim Al-Kib agreed to pay $400 million of this outstanding debt. Libya Herald has been unable to confirm with the Turkish economy ministry whether this money has already been paid or is included in the $700 million that is due to be made over straight away. It is also still uncertain whether all of the $100 million held by Turkish companies in the Libyan banking system has now been handed back.
Though frustrated by the delay in being paid for work done, in addition to not yet being compensated for contractual losses and damage to equipment and installations during the revolution, the Turkish government has trodden carefully in seeking a resolution to the issue. This is because Libya has become a major market. From 2005 to 2011 Turkish construction deals rose in value from $350 million to $23.6 billion. As revolts broke out in Tunisia and Egypt, the Qaddafi regime urged Turkish contractors to speed up their projects and promised some contractors early completion bonuses.
Despite payment delays, the Turks are returning to projects and the overdue payments will be a welcome boost to working capital. There is certainly no evidence that Turkish companies have lost their appetite for more Libyan deals; their executives have been much in evidence at recent trade and construction fairs in Tripoli.