BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Monday accused corrupt officials of looting the country’s oil wealth and said its 5 million people should be given the money directly.
Gaddafi urged a sweeping reform of government bureaucracy, saying most of the cabinet system should be dismantled to free Libyans from red tape and protect the state budget from corruption.
“You have to be ready, each Libyan will get directly his share of the oil money,” Gaddafi told a gathering of his supporters including ministers, top military and police officers and members of the General People’s Congress, the country’s top executive and legislative body.
“The implementation will start at the beginning of next year,” he said, for the first time giving a date for the direct sharing of oil wealth. Gaddafi was speaking on the 39th anniversary of the army coup that brought him to power.
Tripoli’s government wants to raise oil output to three million barrels per day by about 2012, from 1.6 million now.
Many Libyans say they have not benefited from rising oil revenues and foreign investment after Libya in 2003 abandoned prohibited weapons programs and ended its international isolation.
“Corruption is linked to bureaucracy everywhere in the world. The solution to ending corruption is to end this administration which manages money spending, and put the money directly in people’ hands,” Gaddafi said in the speech, broadcast live on Libyan television.
Gaddafi named justice, defense, interior and foreign ministries as the only ministries which would be spared the purge of bureaucracy.
“Corruption and theft of public money will remain if bureaucracy remains,” he said, giving the example of state bank officials who had stolen millions in public funds and complaints by Libyans of corruption, mismanagement and nepotism.
Gaddafi said Libyans should not fear the consequences of changes which, he said, would encourage them to create a private sector that would make them healthier, richer and freer.
He said Libyans should decide for themselves how to spend the oil money, such as on better education for their children, healthcare and the freer import of goods to counter monopolies and fight price increases.
He warned that direct sharing of oil money and the dismantling of bureaucracy would unleash “chaos in the first stage”, but added:
“Libyans, with oil money directly in their hands and bureaucracy dismantled, will set up a genuine popular administration and form a society of the masses ruled by a genuine direct democracy.”
Writing by Lamine Ghanmi; editing by Andrew Roche