By: Suliman S. Al-Shahomy*
The ambassador, Ghaith Saif Al-Naser, asked me to talk about the
the state salaries, the lack of justice, and the inflation, especially in the sovereign institutions, the diplomatic missions, and the effects on the public budget. I thank him for this concern.
No doubt that the state salaries is the biggest part of the public budget with more than 50%, the reasons differ, and the most importantly the steady increase in the number of public employees either inside or abroad diplomatic missions. There are more than 1.5 million workers in a nation of six million. Nevertheless, the demand is still high for the public positions, as it is the easiest way for income, and for the spread corruption across the Libyan institutions, lack of controls over public sector employees.
It is sure that the public posts in Libya suffered, as it is considered the only sanctuary for the job given the limited ability of the private sector, the weak direct investments, and the limited ability of financial institutions to fund new projects.
Besides, the lack of the required capabilities to establish small economic activities and the political conflict that impeded the economic development programs was the easiest and quickest way to income, cheat to get more than one salary, in the wake of current chaos. Salary duplication exposed by the Audit Bureau and the Financial Ministry is a significant prove for the problem, despite not tackling more important issues. In my opinion, like the great exaggeration of salaries of sovereign bodies and diplomatic missions, some semi-governmental bodies, or institutions not funded by the public budget, that created sentiments of inequality and lack of satisfaction among people, especially that such bodies grant financial advantages to their affiliates. All that caused significant gaps between the sectors of the society, reflected in the different financial abilities of citizens, may be the biggest effect of the increased public salaries is the growing public deficit, given the weak public revenues.
Salary is the sole income for the Libyan families to meet their needs, all families find it hard to get due to the cash crisis, but at the same time, we find other employees working within the same rules and circumstances but get higher pays. In my opinion, we urgently need redrawing working and wages policies in Libya. Of course, there are differences regarding skills and capabilities, but there should be general framework controls and organizes public labor and wages. It is not accepted for any employee to get 500 dinars monthly, while others with the same skills get 15 thousand because that one became a HoR member or working for an embassy.
If such wasting rate continues via increased annual employment and these significant wage differences continue, then no doubt that we are heading toward deepening social issues. It also increases the public perception that public post and salary is a granted right even without working or paying any efforts.
We need more efforts to correct the wrong courses and reconsider the role of a public post. Efforts to end salary duplication will remain with limited effects if not accompanied by state institutions unification and control appointments and complexities outside owners either in the interim government or the Government of National Accord (GNA). We even need to reduce the embassies reduce staff, by unified vision. The public expenditures needed to be directed to be developed rather than only managed. We need providing the infrastructure and the schemes for equally public and private development projects.
I firmly believe that one of the major issues we have is the increasing government spending on salaries and the rewards that need serious revision, before even modifying the exchange rates. What wasted in salaries exceeds that on fuel subsidies, and what is allocated for salaries without production is much more cruel, regarding wasting opportunities for the national economy to harnessing the resources for development and construction.
*A Libyan Finance Expert and The Founder of Libyan Financial Market