Libyan Business Forum Ends in Disarray

At the Libyan Businessmen Council’s forum in Tripoli last week the business community loudly voiced their frustration at the slow pace of economic reform, and at the absence of high-level ministers from the meeting.

Following the opening speeches by the VIPs, the Economy and Finance Ministers excused themselves due to other commitments, leading to what the Libya Herald described as the early deterioration of the whole meeting.

Members of the business community said they were led to believe that the Minister was going to stay on to receive some questions and comments, and to report on progress.

Rashid Sawan owner of a mineral water bottling factory for leading brands al-Zahra and Annada shouted angrily:

"We put the government there thanks to the Revolution. The government is supposed to be here to represent our views and our ideas and policies. I am totally upset by the Minister’s short appearance. We did not come here for nothing. We did not come here to this meeting today just to hear his short protocol speech."

He then led a small group of business people out of the forum.

Another businessman, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Libya Herald:

"We were expecting some new announcements. Some new policies or some new reforms of the existing business laws. How long must we wait for progress? I am not surprised that the business community is getting frustrated. We are still forced to operate under the old socialist laws which are holding us back and time is passing. How long must we wait?"

Another said:

"We expected to take part in a detailed question-and-answer session with the Minister (of Economy). We were surprised when he left so quickly. I blame the Libyan Business Council. They should have insisted he stayed. Some businessmen felt insulted that he would not stay and listen to them."

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