Overview

  • Given its high reliance on hydrocarbon activities, the performance of the economy remains strongly affected by security conditions, especially around the main oil fields and terminals. Improved political and security arrangements in the latter half of 2017 had allowed Libya to more than double its production of oil and to register record growth last year (up 26.7 percent) after four years of recession. But this dynamic has not been sustained over the first half of 2018.  In fact, oil production stagnated around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) over the first 5 months before abruptly dropping to only 0.7 million bpd in June following the attack and temporary control of the oil fields and terminals in the East by militias, which badly damaged oil infrastructure and oil reservoirs. If the authorities can fix the damaged oil infrastructure over the second half of the year, it is expected that GDP will grow at 7.2 percent in 2018, driven on the supply side by higher oil output that could recover to around 1 million bpd by end 2018, and on the demand side by higher government expenditures and investment.  

    Although declining, inflation remains high, reflecting market disruptions due to supply shortages of goods and services along with still very active parallel currency exchange market. The consumer price index increased by 17.6 percent over the first 4 months of 2018 (vs. 26.9 percent, the same period last year). Due to the relative improvement of the exchange rate in the parallel market induced by increased supply of foreign currency through the official rate, inflation is expected to slow to around 15 percent for the year. Nevertheless, the cumulative inflation over the last four years has adversely affected Libyan households, which have lost almost 80 percent of their purchasing power. This has almost certainly pushed more Libyans into poverty and hardship and worsened inequality. 

    Libya Public Finance 

    Public finances are expected to improve slightly but the inflexibility of current expenditures and volatile oil revenues keep the overall fiscal stance under severe stress. Oil revenues are expected to significantly improve this year (47 percent of GDP), yet they will barely suffice to cover the high and increasing wage bill, which will hit 48 percent of GDP. The rising wage bill reflects both salary increases and additional hiring, which in turn are linked to pressure on the public payroll as a stabilizing instrument in a context of multi-factional conflict. Concerns over use of public payroll to pay for militias has prompted the call for the audit of the two Central Banks (The Bank has provided comments at the UN’s request on the TOR for the proposed Audit of the two Central Banks; and has additionally submitted comments to UN and GOL on the proposed new economic reforms below). Subsidies will remain high (10.6 percent of GDP) given the complex political economy that delays the needed reform of the system. The budget deficit, while slightly improving, will remain high at around 26 percent of GDP in 2018 (34.5 percent of GDP in 2017). The deficit is expected to be financed through cash advances from the Tripoli Central Bank and issuing of government bonds in the East.

    The balance of payments deficit reflects the large public-sector deficit and the economy’s heavy reliance on imported consumption and intermediate goods, including refined fuel. This will transform the small current account surplus registered in 2017 (2.5 percent of GDP) into a deficit of around 3 percent of GDP this year. Foreign reserves will stabilize as selected foreign investment in the oil sector and elevated oil prices will cover most of the current account deficit, allowing the Central Bank to stave off further drain on reserves. 

    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 several years (2014-2018).  The GNA has recently approved a unified national budget, however the HOR has failed to adopt/approve this budget legislation.  Of note, over the past several years, development spending (capital investment) in Libya has virtually collapsed, comprising an estimated 1o% of total government spending in FY2018, down from a budgeted 52% of total budget spending in FY2012.  

    Immediate challenges with respect to fiscal planning include how 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.  The Bank’s post-conflict engagement 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: Apr 01, 2019

  • 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. 

    The World Bank Group continues to have a very strong 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 has engaged in four Libyan Economic dialog (“brainstorming sessions”), which are attended by Libyan economists, public administration, and private sector representatives. The objective of the Libya dialogue and planning exercise is to bring Libyans from different horizons together for a discussion to forge a locally defined and Libyan owned vision and plan for recovery and development in the country. 

    The Libya Econonomi Dialog initiatives 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 Bank will hold its fifth Libyan Economic Dialog in June 2019.   

    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 IFC recently went to Tripoli Libya (March 2019) to discuss SME technical assistance, Corporate Governance, and possible areas where IFC could provide assistance. 

    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.  MIGA recently went to Tripoli, Libya (April 2019) and engaged in a public forum with 45 SME busnesses to explore how MIGA could engage. 

    Last Updated: Apr 01, 2019

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LENDING

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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Ebrahim Al-Harazi
ealharazi@worldbank.org