By Sami Zaptia.
London, 21 March 2019:
Speaking yesterday at a press conference on Libya’s 2019 LD 46.8 bn budget (Financial Arrangements), Deputy head of the Presidency Council, Ahmed Maetig said that the 2019 budget enjoys a 10 percent increase on 2018’s LD 42 bn budget. He assured that oil production was up and that there was no budget deficit in 2019.
Maetig, sharing the stage with Finance Minister Faraj Bumatri, said chapter three of the budget, related to development and projects, has had a 25 percent increase on 2018. He also said that the National Oil Corporation will receive a ‘‘good amount’’ in 2019 to help increase oil production and state revenues which would in turn increase the state budget.
The 2019 budget will also include the repayment of about LD 5 bn of the state’s deficit, which would send a good signal internally and externally that the Libyan economy is growing, Maetig and Bumatri said.
The repayment of some of the deficit would be from the revenue earnt by the state specifically from the foreign currency surcharge announced in September 2018 as part of the economic reforms. These revenues will also help pay for various projects in health, education and transport. Maetig promised that a ‘‘large number’’ of projects will be activated in 2019.
He said that there was a specific allocation in the projects section that would be allocated to help the Libyan private sector.
Maetig called on foreign companies to return to Libya to resume their stalled projects and added cryptically that companies that ‘‘remained’’ in Libya would receive ‘‘special treatment’’.
He said the budget had been delayed in order to allow time for the various ministries and state entities to input their needs into the budget to help solve many bottlenecks across sectors.
He also announced that pensioners would receive an increase in their basic allowance to bring them up to the level of increases in other sectors.
Finance Minister Bumatri added that the salaries (chapter one) and operational section (chapter two) of the budget received a minor 3 percent increase in order to release funds for the development projects (chapter three) section.
He revealed that the salaries budget would not be increased without any new additions being incorporated into the National ID Number system.
Asked about the sources of revenues of the 2019 budget, he reassured that no loans were taken from the Central Bank but that oil production and spending controls had helped increase the budget. He confirmed oil production had reached 1.2 million barrels per day and that this was expected to increase further this year.
On subsidies, he confirmed that the Ministry of Economy was in the process of revealing a proposal to substitute subsidised goods with a direct cash subsidy.