By Moutaz Ali.
Tripoli, 23 December 2016:
A devaluation of the Libyan dinar and the replacement of fuel subsidies by cash payments to ordinary people were the two main proposals coming out of a seminar on the economy in Tripoli yesterday organised by the Presidency Council’s Government of National Accord. Those attending argued that the moves would go some way to help Libya through its present economic crisis.
“Everyone is trying to solve the problem, including the Presidency Council,” Mohamed Raied, the current head of the Union of Chambers of Commerce who is also member of the House of Representatives, told the Libya Herald. The point of having the seminar was to try and find the best Libyan solution to the crisis, he said.
“We hope the Central Bank of Libya will take what seems tough solutions. But they are crucial. The solution is replacing financial subsidies for petrol and instead giving cash to residents directly. Only rich people and smugglers are gaining benefits from the present situation and nothing goes to ordinary people.”
As to devaluation, he suggested a rate of $1 to LD 4.
If the the countries’ financial problems had been addressed earlier, he added, there would have been no need to devalue the dinar to such an extent. Conversely, the longer the issue is avoided, he warned, the greater the devaluation would have to be.
“If we had initiated this policy two years ago, the Libyan dinar would have had to never decrease to such level and as long as we are delaying, we’ll have to expect an greater devaluation of the dinar.”
The seminar was massively oversubscribed.
“We targeted just 60 people for the seminar and we did not expect all of them to come because of the disappointing situation of the country,” Jalal Othman, head of the GNA’s media and communication administration which organaised the event, told this newspaper.
“We were surprised to see more than 200 people, including officials, academics and businessmen, show up – and they enriched the discussions with very firm and frank views,” he added.
There was, he insisted, no one better than Libyan experts to provide solutions to the current economic situation.