By Sami Zaptia.
London, 22 August 2020:
- Turkish companies prepared to return to work in Libya
- Mechanisms for return discussed
- Priority for electricity projects
- Priority for companies with existing contracts in Libya
- No new contracts to companies not actually working in Libya
- Turkish companies asked why they have not returned since the August MoU was signed?
The Finance Ministry of the internationally recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli reported that Turkish companies are preparing to return to Libya to complete their stalled contracted projects.
The announcement comes after Faraj Bumtari the Finance Minister of the Tripoli Libyan government, together with the head of Tripoli’s Audit Bureau Khaled Shakshak, met with several Turkish companies in Istanbul yesterday. These are thought to include ENKA and Galik which have electricity sector contracts in Libya.
The Finance Ministry reported that the meeting discussed ‘‘the mechanisms for the return of these companies to complete their previous stalled contracts, especially in the field of electricity, to get (Libya) out of the current (electricity deficit) crisis’’.
The Istanbul meeting followed on from a Wednesday (19 August) meeting between Khaled Shakshak, the Tripoli Audit Bureau head, and the Turkish Ambassador to Libya to discuss ‘‘the reasons why Turkish companies do not return to complete their work in Libya’’.
The Audit Bureau had reported that Shakshak had stressed to the Turkish ambassador ‘‘the need for Turkish companies, especially electricity contractors, to return to Libya as soon as possible, stressing that the Audit Bureau will not grant any new approvals except for companies already in Libya and that the priority in the contracts in the coming period will be for companies that will help the country get out of the current (electricity) crisis.
These two meetings also followed on from last Tuesday’s (18 August) meeting between Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister, Faiez Serraj, and the General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL). The head of Tripoli’s Audit Bureau was also present.
At that meeting, ‘‘measures agreed at an earlier meeting to urgently alleviate the suffering of citizens from the worsening electricity crisis and to overcome obstacles to plans to increase production capacity to cover the needs of public consumption in all regions of Libya’’ were discussed.
The meeting also discussed ‘‘the issue of stalled projects and the procedures required for the return of the implementing companies to those projects to complete their work’’.
It will be recalled that Libya and Turkey signed an MoU on 13 August this year. The agreement was part of cooperation between the two countries to complete 184 stalled Turkish construction projects in Libya estimated at US$ 16 bn.
Speaking at a press conference after the signing event, Tripoli’s Planning Minister, Taher Al- Jahemi said Turkey had the ‘‘lion’s share” of projects in Libya. ‘‘Turkey has infrastructure projects in Libya estimated at 20 percent of the total existing projects contracted between 2008-2012, which is one of the largest shares for countries with projects contracted with the Libyan state, estimated at 184 projects’’.
It will be recalled that Turkish companies were forced to leave Libya in 2018 when three engineers were kidnapped and held hostage for eight months before finally being released.
It will be recalled that since the 2011 Libyan revolution there have been numerous reports that companies were about to return to Libya to complete their stalled projects. At the end, the issues of the lack of security and lack of payment for old debts have prevented any company from making a serious long-term return (see links below for detailed reports over the last eight years of announcements of agreements on payments of debts and the return of foreign contractors).