Libya’s Financial Black Hole

MEES, 17 August 2018

Libya near-balanced its budget in 1H 2018. But this was ‘thanks’ to chronic state weakness that left spending 21% under budget. Revenues were up with higher oil prices, but non-oil revenue remains abysmal.

The UN plans an audit of Libya’s finances in a bid to help tackle corruption. But, if the country’s official finance figures for the first half of 2018 show one thing, it is that central authorities have a firm grasp on neither revenue nor spending.

First half figures from the Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya (CBL) highlight something that Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation, has frequently pointed out – that NOC is the only (more or less) functioning part of the state’s revenue collection and spending apparatus ( MEES, 2 February ).

Tripoli’s first half revenue of LD16.7bn ($12.1bn) was 2% above the budget LD16.3bn. But this was thanks to crude prices, which at an average of $69.2/B for Libya’s light Es Sider crude, are up $19/B (38%) year on year…

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Richard Nield is a freelance journalist, photographer and filmmaker covering the Middle East and Africa. In 10 years covering the region, he has been published and broadcast by clients including the BBC, Reuters, Al Jazeera, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Independent and Foreign Policy magazine. He has reported from throughout the region, including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, South Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.