By Jamie Prentis.
Tunis, 4 August 2017:
The Presidency Council’s economy minister has said that the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is vital if Libya’s financial system is to recover and take off.
Speaking in Tunis today at the start of a conference on facilitating access to finance for SMEs in Libya, Naser Fadelallah Aoun said that the economy had to remain in the forefront of future government plans. SMEs were an important part of this..
“Every SME is a gun withdrawn, It takes young people off the street and reduces violence,” he said, alluding to the fact that so many young Libyans are drawn by the financial rewards of joining militias given the scarcity of their careers choices. Others end up involved in kidnapping and other crimes because of the difficulties in finding legitimate employment.
Libya, while a resource-rich country, is lacking in “knowledge” and skills, the minister noted. He attributed this to problems with the education system.
He also added that it was essential that “the EU stands by us to support the private sector”. He was speaking alongside the EU’s ambassador to Libya, Bettina Muscheidt. The EU has helped fund
The two were at a workshop organised by the SLEIDSE programme (“Support to Libya for Economic Integration Diversification and Sustainable Employment”) which is funded by the EU and run by Expertise France. Its objective it to ensure the creation of a vibrant SME sector in Libya, and with it jobs for Libyans.
An SME is an enterprise with less than 250 staff.
Supporting SMEs was one of the most important parts of the EU’s Libya programme, Muscheidt said. She described Libya’s future as “like a sleeping beauty waking up and hitting the ground running”.
Speaking to Libyan leaders and members of the Libyan business community as well as many of the country’s top bankers, she added that they were driving positive change in the country.
“The EU is proud to stand by you,” she added.