By Sami Zaptia.
Tunis, 30 March 2017:
Subsidies in the Libyan economy are everywhere, including food and energy subsidies at around 16 percent of Libya’s budget, explained Taher Jehaimi member of the Libya Experts Forum (LEF) and the Presidency Council’s planning minister.
He was speaking at the 5th LEF which started in Tunis today and ends on 31 March.
There were also subsidies in the health and education sectors, he said. But the biggest subsidy was currently on the foreign exchange rate. The Central Bank of Libya (CBL) is currently selling the dollar at LD 1.4 — but its market value was much higher, he said. The proof of this is its black market rate, which it LD 7 per dollar today.
Subsidies are seen as a sacred cow by many Libyans, he said. They are seen as a right, and entitlement. But at what long-term cost to the nation, he asked.
Subsidies were always abused and were currently costing some LD 6 billion per annum, equivalent to more than a sixth of the annual budget. But 40-50 percent of Libya’s subsidised fuel was being smuggling abroad, he added.
“We need to analyse subsidies from all angles. We need to analyse who deserves subsidies and who does not,” he concluded, indicating that they had to be cut.