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GNA and CBL fail to agree national budget for 2019

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

TUNIS – The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and Central Bank of Libya (CBL) have failed to agree a national budget for 2019 due to a row over spending priorities, and the wrangling could go on until March, three sources familiar with the talks told Reuters.

The conflict is a setback for Western powers and the United Nations, which have been pressing for reforms to tackle a war economy that has enriched armed groups in a conflict stemming from the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The World Bank, U.N. and Western powers hosted a meeting in Tunis with Libyan officials last week to prod them to finalize a budget which should have been approved in December.

But no deal was reached, as the Tripoli administration and the central bank could not agree how to use revenues from a new fee on hard currency transactions, among other issues, diplomats as well as the sources familiar with the talks said.

Agreeing on a budget could take as long as to March when the next meeting is planned, they and diplomats briefed on the talks said.

Officials at the Tripoli-based government including the finance ministry as well as the central bank did not respond to phone calls seeking comment, Reuters reported.

With no budget, the government can only pay for public salaries and fuel subsidies but not for badly-needed investments to overhaul dilapidated schools, roads and hospitals.

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