Libya's parliament approves $18.3 billion additional budget to its appointed government

BENGHAZI (Reuters) - Libya's eastern-based parliament approved what it called an additional budget of 88 billion Libyan dinars ($18.3 billion) on Wednesday to its appointed government for the rest of the current year, the parliament spokesman said.

The approval was unanimous in a closed session, the spokesman Abdullah Belhaiq said.

At the end of April, the House of Representatives (HoR) had approved a budget of 90 billion Libyan dinars for the Benghazi-based Libyan government of Osama Hamad, who came to power in March 2023 and is allied with the military commander Khalifa Haftar, who controls the east and large parts of the southern region of Libya.

Libya has had little peace since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, and it split in 2014 between warring eastern and western factions.

In Tripoli there is the Government of National Unity headed by interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, who was installed through a U.N.-backed process in 2021.

The HoR member Saltana al-Mosmari said that there was a deficit in the first approved budget. Some HoR members had contacted sectors and municipalities and found out that the first budget "was not enough".

"It [the budget] will be spent on all Libyan territories and will be allocated to the Libyan government," Mosmari said.

HoR member Aisha Tublqi said that the additional budget "would be implemented by the central Bank."

But it is unclear if the Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya (CBL) governor, Sadiq Kabir, will hand over the money to the government of Hamad based in Benghazi.

The CBL said in a statement three days ago that Kabir and HoR speaker Aguila Saleh had discussed "steps taken to adopt a 2024 unified budget" during what was a rare meeting in Cairo.

The CBL is the only internationally recognised depository for Libyan oil revenues, the country's vital source of income. It was not available for immediate comment on Wednesday.

The dispute over control of government and state revenue, and over a political solution to resolve years of violent chaos, threatens to launch Libya back into administrative partition and war.

In her briefing to the Security Council last month, Stephanie Koury, the U.N. deputy representative, said that unifying a national budget "is an absolute necessity."

(Reporting by Ayman Werfalli; writing by Ahmed Elumami; Editing by Keith Weir)