Opinion

Libyans’ salaries exceed Tunisian general budget

By: Mohamed El Hajjaj

If we compared the public sector in Libya with its counterparts in neighboring countries, we will discover how poor our strategies are for the labor market’s requirements, educational outcomes, and diversification of income resources, besides the weakness of the private sector.

For example, in comparison to sister country Tunisia, which has a population of 11.5 million people, the number of public sector employees reached about 690,000 in December 2017, while the total of those who received salaries from the public treasury in Libya in 2017 were more than 1.5 million employees.

According to a report by the Libyan audit office, this number is likely to increase with the issuance of new recruitment decisions this year, which will lead to an increase in public expenditure of salaries.

While the Tunisian authorities estimated the value of the state budget at $14 billion for 2019, the government sector’s salaries in Libya for 2018 were estimated at $17.5 billion, about $3 billion higher.

These comparisons reflect the importance of diversifying the income resources for countries. About 95 percent of the Libyan national income relies on the revenues of oil exports, while Tunisia has various income resources to its economy. It encourages the private sector in tourism and industry and supports small and medium sized enterprises, which all makes the Tunisian private sector attract 70 percent of the workforce, according to Tunisian official statistics in 2017.

These comparisons also show the lack of coordination between the ministries of planning, education, and labor in Libya. The Ministry of Labor recently issued a statistic about job seekers in which they were estimated at 54,000 people. It was inaccurate because it focused on only the period from January to September, and the report included only 64 out of 105 offices nationwide.

Unemployment indicators in the two countries are close, with unemployment reaching 15 percent in 2018, according to official statistics from the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) office for North Africa.

The aforementioned comparisons do not mean that the Tunisian economy is as good as it seems, but they show the wise distribution of human capabilities among different sectors and the level of improvement the Tunisian private sector has reached.

Official statements from the two sides hinted at the desire to increase the volume of trade exchange between the two countries, which amounted to LYD 800 million, according to official statements, while it was $2 billion before 2011.

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