Jordan, which touts itself as a top destination in the Arab world for medical care, is demanding that Tripoli pay up more than $200 million in medical and hotel bills accumulated by tens of thousands of Libyans who were flown for hospital treatment in Jordan after last year's conflict that ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power.
The total is a sizeable amount and Jordan, grappling with rising fuel and electricity prices, is desperate for the Libyans to pay their bills as it has a huge external debt that could reach $24.6 billion by the end of this year.
Fawzi Hammuri, head of Jordan's Private Hospitals Association, said that in the past six months around 40 out of Jordan's 60 private hospitals treated more than 55,000 Libyans.
According to Hammuri, Tripoli now owes $105 million to Amman in medical bills, while around 2,000 Libyan patients are still hospitalised in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
“We signed an agreement in November with a Libyan committee in charge of treating Libyan patients. The panel asked hospitals to do everything possible for the patients. When we asked the committee to pay, it told us the bills needed to be examined first, and they are still being examined,” said Mr Hammuri.
A Libyan health ministry official said a joint committee is currently reviewing the outstanding bills, but went on to tell AFP that many of the bills have errors, adding that the two countries have agreed that half of the outstanding bills will be paid as soon as the audit is completed.
“The health ministries in the two countries signed an agreement to resolve this issue. But the Libyans need to organise themselves in order to pay the bills,” he told AFP
During their stay in Jordan, the Libyans reportedly rented furnished and serviced apartments and stayed in dozens of hotels, which now demand around $100 million in bills.
According to industry experts, failing settlement of outstanding bills, many hotels face bankruptcy, and Mohammad Balluti, a spokesman for a group of 70 hotels said that oOthers failed to pay back loans they took from banks to accommodate the Libyan patients. 'It is chaos. I think the Libyans owe $100 million to Jordanian hotels,” he said.
(Source: Tripoli Post)