The cost of the political conflict has taken a severe toll on the Libyan economy, which has remained in recession for the third consecutive year in 2015. Political strife, weak security conditions, and blockaded oil infrastructures continue to constrain the supply side of the economy. Production of crude oil fell to around 0.4 million barrels per day (bpd) or the fourth of potential. The non-hydrocarbon output remained weak due to disruptions in the supply chains of both domestic and foreign inputs, as well as lack of financing. In this context, GDP is estimated to have declined by 10 percent and per capita income has fallen to less than US$ 4,500 compared to almost US$ 13,000 in 2012. Inflation strongly accelerated last year driven by high food prices. Lack of funding to finance imports, especially subsidized food, generated chronic shortages in basic commodities and expansion of black markets activities. This situation was exacerbated by households attempting to stockpile food. Inflation averaged 9.2 percent in 2015, mainly driven by a 13.7 percent rise in food prices. Prices of flour and bread quintupled.

Protracted political standoff, coupled with lower international oil prices and generous subsidies have weakened public finances and external position. Budget revenues from the hydrocarbon sector have fallen to only a fifth of their pre-revolution levels, while spending has remained high. The share of the public wage bill in GDP is astronomic (around 60 percent), mainly reflecting a plethoric public sector. Meanwhile, investments have been insufficient for sustaining adequate public provision for health, education, electricity, water and sanitation services. However, savings have been realized on subsidies thanks to tougher control of the supply chains of subsidized products and lower import prices. Overall, the budget deficit rose from 43 percent of GDP in 2014 to more than 75 percent of GDP in 2015. Being highly dependent on hydrocarbon exports and food imports, Libya’s balance of payments suffered in 2015. Representing 97 percent of total exports, oil receipts are estimated to have declined to less than 15 percent of their 2012 level. Meanwhile, consumption driven imports remained high. As a result, the current account swung from balance in 2013 to a deficit estimated at around 76 percent of GDP in 2015. To finance these deficits, net foreign reserves are rapidly being depleted.

Improvement of the economic outlook depends crucially on the endorsement by the House of Representatives of the Government of National Accord (GNA) formed under the auspices of the UN. The economic and social outlook assumes that the GNA is eventually empowered to restore security and launch a comprehensive program to rebuild the economic and social infrastructures. In this context, GDP is projected to increase strongly in 2016. However, the twin deficits will prevail as oil revenues will not be sufficient to cover the high budget expenditures and consumption-driven imports. Over the medium term, as oil production returns to full capacity, growth is projected to rebound at two digit growth rates in 2017 and 2018, before stabilizing thereafter between 5 and 6 percent.

Libya Public Finance

Figure 1 below provides a snapshot of 2012-2015 Libyan national budget.  During the 2010-2013 period, the executed budget did not typically exceed the overall amount authorized by parliament, but its composition substantially differed from that of the approved budget.  The overall rate of budget execution was around 80 percent in 2010 and 2012 and was about 93 percent in 2013.   There has been no approved (official) budget over the past two years (2014-2015).  In FY2012, development budget spending accounted for slightly more than 52% of all government spending, with wages and salaries comprising 24%.  However, over the past several years, development spending has virtually collapsed, comprising an estimated 15% of total government spending in FY2015, down from a budgeted 52% of total budget spending in FY2012. 


Although several budgets have been presented by the Tripoli Administration and the HOR (Tobruk, Eastern Administration), the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) did not acknowledge any budget as being the legal, legitimate Libyan budget for FY2015.  In effect, neither the budget submitted by rival Parliaments in Tripoli and in the Eastern city of Tobruk have been recognized.  The Central Bank of Libya (CBL) has only disbursed funds regarding wages and salaries (Chapter 1); student scholarships abroad; oil/gas sector development; electricity (chapter 3); and, essential subsides items (Chapter 4).

Immediate challenges are to manage fiscal spending pressures while restoring and improving basic public services. A longer term goal is to help develop the framework and institutions for a more diversified market-based economy, broadening the economic base beyond the oil and gas sector.  Although the Bank’s post-conflict engagement was initially expected to accompany only Libya’s short term economic recovery efforts, the transition program will lay the foundation for longer term goals. This includes creating a more vibrant and competitive economy with a level playing field for the private sector to create sustainable jobs and wealth. It also includes transforming the management of oil revenues to ensure they are used in the best interests of the country and to the benefit of all citizens equally. This will also ensure that citizens have a role in defining and voicing their communities’ best interests.

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2016

The Bank is committed to supporting Libya’s transition and economic recovery through technical assistance and analytical services, as well as trust fund and grant financing. The Bank has been implementing a program of post-conflict Technical Assistance (TA) with the authorities and development partners, and carrying out analysis since reengaging in October 2011. Post-conflict recovery priorities were defined jointly with the Libyan authorities and are underpinned by analysis prepared with the United Nations, the European Union and the World Bank Group as part of a “Watching Brief” launched during the 2011 conflict.

Based on discussions with the Libyan authorities and the Watching Brief assessments, the Bank’s support to Libya was initially articulated around three near to medium term objectives:

  • Increasing accountability and transparency: notably to help the public administration  strengthen its accountability to citizens and be more transparent  in the management and allocation of public financial and economic resources;
  • Improving the delivery of services: to assist the authorities in improving how cities are managed and services are delivered, including infrastructure (water, sanitation, power, transport and telecommunications) and social services such as health, education, and skills, and to ensure they are more predictable and equitable; and
  • Creating jobs: to help the authorities design appropriate employment creation programs and promote self-employment or micro, small and medium enterprises, including integrating former combatants and youth into economic activity; and to improve the environment for the private and financial sector.

With the prospects of a possible Government of National Accord, the World Bank Group is increasing its partnership with other donor agencies to help gathering relevant Libyan stakeholders to discuss change and reform and seeking some sort of consensus on how should we reengage and support the restoration of key institutions as well as coordinated international offer of support to the new Libyan Government. Despite the current political crisis, the World Bank has not stopped its technical assistance to Libya.  The on-going work has been selective in content and counterparts, focusing on building the capacity of the public administration counterparts with whom strong working relations had been established before the political crisis materialized. In particular in the areas of public financial management, governance, internal control, Islamic banking, energy, private sector development and decentralization. This program is being funded by World Bank and trust fund resources.

Most recently, the bank concluded its third brainstorming session which took place on March 11th and 12th in Tunis attended by Libyan economists, public administration, and private sector representatives. The initiative comes as an effort from the World Bank in supporting the Government of National Accord in particular on an economic recovery and social stability prioritization and sequencing. The objective of the Libya dialogue and planning exercise will be to bring Libyans from different horizons together for a discussions to forge a locally defined and Libyan owned vision and plan for recovery and development in the country.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector arm, is keen to support the private sector in Libya through its investment and advisory services. In the short term, creating access to finance for small and medium enterprises, and especially leasing, is an immediate area which IFC will start working on. On the advisory side, the IFC is working to raise awareness and provide capacity building for the financial sector as well as private participation in infrastructure development, possibly through promoting Public Private Partnerships. The IFC and the World Bank are coordinating support to strengthen the financial and private sectors.

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) has also engaged with Libya following the 2011 revolution. MIGA provided a guarantee in 2012 to TunInvest-AfricInvest Group for a US$8.9 million investment in Jafara Co., a water and juice bottling company based outside Tripoli. The 10 year guarantee is MIGA’s first in Libya and protects the investors against risks such as transfer restriction, expropriation, war and civil disturbance. TunInvest-AfricInvest Group is a private equity house established in Tunisia.

Last Updated: Mar 31, 2016


Libya: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments