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Libyan consumers bear cost of conflict

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 01:37

Conflict, political strife and loss of oil revenues have left Libya's economy in turmoil. As Ivor Bennett reports, consumers are finding it hard to make ends meet, with food prices continuing to rise.

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The weekly shop in Tripoli - time to start counting the pennies, and the notes. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) TRIPOLI RESIDENT, AHMED, SAYING: "In the past you'd need 200 to 300 Dinars ($145 - $218) a month to survive but now you need a 1000." That's equivalent to about 730 dollars. Over 5 times what many Libyans are used to. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LOCAL RESIDENT, SHABAN AL ATWEESH, SAYING: "Everything is more expensive now, from bread to flour to oil to tomatoes. Everything, anything, is more expensive. What are people with low incomes supposed to do? Should they beg? Or steal? Expect anything." The price hikes are one of the many symptoms of Libya's struggling economy. Life after the removal of long-term leader Colonel Gaddafi five years ago, triggering political upheaval that's interrupted a vital lifeline. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ECONOMIC ANALYST, WAHID JABBO, SAYING: "There are numerous reasons behind the failing economy, but first and foremost is the lack of oil exports from the ports and oil fields, which has resulted in losses of some $70 billion in the last two years." At the banks too, liquidity is in short supply. Many consumers have withdrawn their money feeling it would be safer at home. but in doing so, have unwittingly made things worse. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) ECONOMIC ANALYST, WAHID JABBO, SAYING: "Severe shortages in capital flows at the Central Bank have resulted in a halt in credit lines, so businessmen and merchants have resorted to buying currency on the black market to continue importing basic goods, but that's led to an increase in prices." Oil shipments are set to resume after a deal agreed last week. But for consumers, easy living is still on hold.

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Libyan consumers bear cost of conflict

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 01:37