The World Bank Group is closely engaged with the new authorities in Libya to support the country’s transition to a stable and prosperous future using the energy of its young people and its natural endowments to the benefit of its citizens.
This was the message delivered by World Bank Middle East and North Africa Vice President Inger Andersen during her first visit to Libya this week.
“Libya’s revolution is a great inspiration to the region, and we in the World Bank would like to help the people of Libya, particularly the youth, realize their expectations,” said Andersen, concluding a three day visit. “Libya’s task is to build the institutions of a modern market economy which draws on its rich resources but also diversifies widely and encourages the engagement of citizens and investors in a thriving private sector that can create much-needed jobs.”
Andersen added that while Libya has notable oil reserves its most important resource is its people: “They have spoken for a new way of doing things in which they have voice, opportunity and, urgently for impatient young Libyans, jobs.”
During her visit Andersen met Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and several ministers in his cabinet focusing on finance, banking, international cooperation, planning, public works and local government. She also made a point to meet representatives of civil society and the private sector to hear a diverse range of views.
After a walk around Martyr’s Square Andersen reflected on the price paid by Libyans for their new freedoms and the heightened expectations that accompany this historic transition: “Across the Arab World I am touched by the many voices I hear which want the simple but profound dignities of social justice and a new relationship between citizen and state built on transparency and accountability. There is much work to do on the nuts and bolts of institution building to underpin such new states that can deliver on these hopes and in this we are committed to help.”
The World Bank has already begun work with Libyan counterparts on statistical systems and national accounts, on public financial management, monitoring and evaluation systems and refining corporate governance within state-owned enterprises. It is also helping Libya’s financial sector in the development of a framework for Islamic finance to ensure it is a well-structured instrument and coexists effectively with conventional banking products. A range of analytical work has been prepared by the Bank to inform Libya’s decision makers including a financial sector review, governance options for investment, a labor market assessment and a cultural heritage report.
Another area where Libya is challenged to deliver rapidly and equitably is social services to its citizens: “Restoring the credibility of government and establishing trust with citizens will be key to securing Libya’s transition,” said Simon Gray, World Bank Director for the Maghreb. “To achieve this, the predictable delivery of services is critical and we are working with authorities on the infrastructure side in water, power and sanitation and in education and health.”
The World Bank’s inputs to these areas are largely knowledge and technical assistance as Libya’s hydrocarbon sector has recovered dramatically and will be at full production later this year.