x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Libyan government has cash to keep going

Libya's fledgling government says it has enough cash to keep going for three months as it waits for funds and oil to flow.

Libya has enough cash to keep going for at least three months as it waits for funds and oil to flow, say rebel officials.

The fledgling government has been lobbying foreign governments to release US$160 billion (Dh 587.68bn) in frozen assets. Some $15bn are pegged for release from the EU and "several billions" are to come from the US and Canada, officials from Libya's National Transitional Council said yesterday in Dubai.

Its central bank has enough cash to plug the gap for another three to six months, said Wafik Shater, the finance coordinator for the NTC's stablisation team.

"I don't want to give you the number - it's a closely guarded system," said Mr Shater. He added the amount was "basically enough to cover the expenditure that we anticipate for the next three months for sure, possibly six months."

Earlier this month Gassem Azzoz, the central bank governor, told reporters in Tripoli the central bank was holding $115bn, with $90bn of that abroad.

Cash is vital to the rebels as they fight Muammar Qaddafi's last loyalists and restore vital services like medical treatment and drinking water after a six-month civil war. But sanctions put in place to help topple Muammar Qaddafi have hampered the rebels in their early days.

Oil, which provided the majority of government revenues before the uprising in February, is expected by some analysts to take as long as three years to return to its full capacity of 1.6 million barrels a day.

ayee@thenational.ae