Libya defence spending up


Libya’s internationally recognised government allocated 40 million Libyan dinars (£23.5 million) for its defence ministry, it said, stepping up spending to fend off an eastern offensive as the war enters a fifth month.

Government granted each of its soldiers 3,000 dinars as a reward for fighting the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) force of Khalifa Haftar, which started a campaign to take Tripoli in April.

Authorities gave no details of the military spending. In April they budgeted up to two billion dinars (£1.2 billion) to cover medical treatment for the wounded, aid for displaced people and other “emergency” war costs.

Government received combat drones and trucks from Turkey to match the LNA build-up, which enjoys backing from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, diplomats say.

The LNA has been unable to breach Tripoli’s southern defences and lost in July its main forward base in Gharyan. The frontlines have not changed in recent weeks but both sides stepped up air strikes.

Government did not say how it plans to fund defence spending.

According to central bank data, Libya in the first six months earned 11.1 billion dinars from a hard currency transaction fee, imposed last year.

The budget of war-torn Libya is based on oil and gas revenues and almost entirely used to pay for public salaries, armed groups and fuel subsidies, leaving little money for roads, schools or hospitals.

The LNA offensive scuppered UN plans for a national conference to stabilise a country in trouble since the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and prepare elections.

Diplomats say there is no appetite for a ceasefire.