By Sami Zaptia.
Tunis, 29 September 2016:
‘‘The next few weeks and months are very important for the Forum. The Forum must gain a reputation of professionalism and independence for its work in helping public policy. There must be priorities as the issues and problems that Libya faces are many’’, said Taher Jehaimi, the Presidency Council/ Government of National Accord (PC/GNA) nominated Planning Minister who was a former Minister of Planning and Governor of the Central Bank of Libya in the Qaddafi era.
The statement came in his keynote speech on day one (of two) at the 4th Libya Experts Development Cooperation Forum being held in Tunis Wednesday and Thursday
‘‘Politics, security and national social reconciliation are some of the priorities and they are interlinked. They will help with solving some of the economic issues too. I am optimistic as this Forum one-of-a-kind and I hope it becomes a good think-tank. I warn that the importance of the Forum must not wane after its initial launch. I hope there will be sustainability.’’, added Jehaimi.
Responding for the UN, Jaffar Syed, Acting Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya and Representative and Head of Mission for WHO in Libya, said that the UN ‘‘will continue to support the Forum. The Forum leads us and we will support you’’, Jehaimi told the members.
Awad Barasi, former Electricity Minister and Deputy Prime Minister under Ali Zeidan warned against the misunderstanding the short term respite from long power cuts being enjoyed in Libya. He attributed this poorly to seasonal demand and the end of the summer peak demand with the arrival of autumn. He pointed out that he had warned in 2015 about a potential crisis in electricity supply – which unfortunately came true this year.
Barasi, therefore, warned against the prioritization by the international community of the fight against ISIS and illegal migration – above all other priorities. Without in any way belittling these two major problems, he warned that Libyans want improved services such as electricity, water, internet, cash at banks etc.
Responding, Jehaimi pointed out that LD 7 bn has been spend on the electricity sector in Libya since 2011, yet generation seems to have failed to keep up with demand.
On the bank cash crises, he said that the problem was complex. It would have been easy if the situation in Libya was normal, but in the country’s current irregular situation – it is complex. There is no magic solution. It needs both financial and confidence building solutions. It is an important and dangerous issue, he admitted.
Another former Minister in the Ali Zeidan government, former Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz stressed the need for a vision and strong leadership to enable Libya, its government and the Forum to work with each other and to be able to go forward.
The Forum continued into its second and final day to address seven pillars of policy advice to be proposed to the PC/GNA.