SMEs "Central to Development of Libyan Economy"

Libya Herald reports that a meeting was held last week in Tripoli between the Libyan Business Council, Libya Enterprise, and the Privatization and Investment Board (PIB), during which the role of SMEs and investment in the private sector were discussed.

Libya Enterprise (www.sme.ly) is the Ministry of Economy department concerned with matters relating to SMEs in Libya, whilst the PIB (www.investinlibya.ly) is the body concerned with encouraging both foreign and Libyan investment in Libya, in return for benefits such as customs duty and tax breaks.

The two state bodies were said to be keen to reach out to members of the Libyan Business Council to increase the role of the private sector and reduce that of the state in the business arena, and the Libyan government has tasked Libya Enterprise to set up of a number of SME Investment Funds.

Abdalnasr Abouzkeh, the General Manager of Libya Enterprise, told the gathered business leaders that “the IMF tells us that Libya should have 300,000 working for the state sector, whereas in reality Libya has 1.3 million”. This statistic encapsulated Libya’s problem of a bloated state sector and a stunted SME private sector, he explained.

The SME Investment Funds were launched last year and as a result we met with local banks in order to put in place a system of SMEs gaining access to their funds”.

Libyan banks had come in for considerable criticism prior to the revolution for failing to back the private commercial sector in general and more specifically the riskier SME sector. The banks for their part have complained that the legal framework inherited from the Qaddafi era does not offer protection for their loans.

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