Libya: Principal state firms transferred to Benghazi
Three important state firms will have their headquarters moved from Tripoli to Benghazi in the drive to give the eastern city more authority. According to a government decree, Libyan Airlines, Libyan Insurance Company and the National Investment Company, as well as the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC), will be transferred. The decree has to be implemented by the oil ministry.
Since the end of the civil war, there has been an overwhelming demand for the transfer of NOC to the eastern region. The Prime Minister said last week that the transfer “does not mean that all departments in Tripoli will be closed.” He assured Libyans that the NOC will continue to be a state company and the transfer is not being held “as a result of pressure by any group.” He said that it was necessary to spread state organizations and bodies across the country due to the country’s size because if not, “the country will not stabilize.” The people in Benghazi believe that the militias in the Libyan capital could obstruct the transfer.
Foreign firms have not reacted to the decree but analysts believe that security reasons could deter them from following suit. The region is awash with weapons and has become a no-go area for foreigners since the September 2012 deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission. NOC remains to be one of the most important firms of the government because it oversees 80% of the nation’s oil wealth.
There have been calls for its restructuration and the debate about how to split the NOC has added to discontent in Benghazi and the east leading to more calls for the region’s autonomy.