By Sami Zaptia.
London, 6 December 2020:
Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tripoli announced yesterday that it had approved a proposal to reduce the Libyan Mission’s staff in New York and the Mission’s expenses by 30 percent.
In a statement published by the Tripoli Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, it official spokesperson Mohamed Giblawi confirmed that this procedure comes within the framework of the ministry’s policy of re-evaluating the work of Libyan embassies and Missions, out of its desire to rationalize spending, reduce expenses and the number of diplomatic employees abroad.
Giblawi added that the proposal was in cooperation with the Libyan Mission in New York, which seeks to be a model and the first step in this direction for the rest of embassies and missions.
The spokesperson pointed out that the restructuring of the Libyan Mission in New York, the reduction of its staff and the pursuit of austerity policy abroad comes in the interest of the current financial and economic situation and in line with the recommendations of Libya’s supervisory and financial agencies.
The decision to cut overseas expenditure by Tripoli’s Foreign Ministry is long overdue. Libyan’s have for years questioned the need for a huge diplomatic corps for a country coming out of a revolution and enduring turmoil.
The fall in world crude oil prices and in Libya’s oil production has meant Libya has experienced a huge fall in oil revenues. This has reduced foreign currency earnings and led to a recurring annual budget deficit. The Tripoli Central Bank of Libya (CBL) has had to dig deep into the country’s hard currency reserves – accumulated under the Qaddafi regime – to bail successive governments out since the 2011 revolution.
And while to save hard currency, imports are restricted and access by ordinary Libyans to hard currency is currently is by the CBL, it was felt that Libya’s political elite were feathering their own nests through diplomatic appointments abroad.
Calls for the closing down or reduction in size of the most un-strategic missions abroad have been made for years, but successive political cliques have considered their postings abroad a right.
With the era of oil seemingly coming to an end, Libya will have to conduct a serious review of its postings abroad and education scholarships to save hard currency.