By Libya Herald staff.
Zliten, 25 February 2015:
Sixty Egyptian bakers have left Zliten as part of the growing exodus of Egyptian from . . .[restrict]the west of the country. Over the past week, thousands have headed home via Tunisia fearing further kidnappings and even killings by militant Islamists. The Zliten bakers left today.
The departure has compounded a bread supply crisis that has hit Zliten as well as Tripoli and other towns. Because of a shortage of flour affecting much of the country resulting from purchasing problems, supplies of flour to bakeries have been reduced on the orders of the Ministry of Economy, according to some reports, by up to 50 percent.
A fortnight ago, Libya’s Price Stability Fund warned that the grain reserve was reducing fast because of delays in money provided to the fund for purchases and the reluctance of grain ships to dock in Misrata and Tripoli.
There have also been widespread allegations of bakers selling state-subsidised flour on the black market for use in animal feed. As a result, the authorities have threatened to revoke the license of any bakery caught re-selling government-issued flour
This week it was reported that 21 bakeries in and around Ghariyan had been temporarily closed following allegations of selling flour on the black market.
The government’s ability to enforce such a policy is, however, limited. Closing bakeries only makes the problem worse.
According to local Zliten officials, the ministry has now warned bakers that if they are caught selling the flour, they will have their allocations cut. The ministry has also told the bakeries not to provide bread to shops and advised the public to purchase their supplies direct at the bakeries.
Despite the shortages, there has been no move to ration bread or a price hike. [/restrict]