By Umar Khan.
Tripoli, 23 June 2013:
The old financial laws are affecting every single department in the new Libya and curtailing progress . . .[restrict]and wasting precious time, say officials. Laws created by the former regime are still in force in Libya, because of the lack of an alternative. They will continue to be applied until either an amendment is passed by the General National Congress (GNC) or they are changed in the new constitution. The laws that are hindering the progress are mostly financial.
Many ministries, as well as local councils, blame financial legislation as the main impediment to the performance of their duties. The whole process is highly centralised and these laws restrict the easy flow of funds. It can take a very long time to release money for any project. Funds can only be transferred after approval has been obtained from several different departments.
Each department cannot directly transfer funds for any project unless it has gone through the regular process of getting approvals from several different financial offices, set up to prolong the process. The red-tape slows down the documentation and results in lengthy delays in releasing funds and thus delaying the overall progress of virtually every project.
This regulatory quagmire is affecting even security. The Interior Ministry has discovered that red tape is impacting on its ability to solve security related problems. Many important and promising initiatives have been force dto take a back seat because although the money is there, it is not being released.
A senior source in the Interior Ministry told the Libya Herald that many programmes are ready to be implemented but are stalled because the funds have not been made available. He said that the GNC is working on the new legislation but it is not known when it will be passed.
“Despite having the budget we cannot directly provide funds to implement our plans” said the source, “It has to go through the gruelling internal procedure that slows everything down. We are waiting for the GNC to pass a new law that will empower the institutions to release funds. It will surely help in implementing plans quicker and achieving desired results. Without it, we have to rely on few internal emergency accounts to provide the funds, but it is not professional.”
The administrative manager of Tripoli Local Council, Aadel Bukra complained about the centralisation of financial institutions. He said: “Even if there is an allocated budget for any specific project, it requires months to go through the legal procedures, only to get the funds released. If the government has trusted any institution with the budget, it should have the funds at its disposal. Current laws just cause unnecessary delay.”
It was the non-availability of funds that stopped short the Joint Security Force from providing security to the capital. Despite the pressing need for the new organisation, the promised funds were not made available despite several assurances, even months after the JSF had been formed.
The problem is not only the long and tricky procedures but also that their allocated budgets were not made available to ministries for months after new ministers took office. The Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan has asked for an additional budget of LD15 billion to cover for any shortfall. Many officials, who want to fast-track the resumption of important stalled projects, are hoping that along with the budget, new financial laws will be put in place so there are no more hurdles in the way of achieving more rapid progress.