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Abu Fnas Says Libya to Use ‘Idle’ Billions to Create Jobs

Libya’s Economy Minister Mustafa Abu Fnas said the government will spend “billions” to help small-and medium-sized companies to create jobs and help the economy recover from an uprising two years ago.

We will use “billions of dollars we have in banks that are idle” to create funds that can be used to help small entrepreneurs, Abu Fnas said in an interview in Tripoli yesterday. He said the unemployment is at about 30 percent.

Libya’s transition since the end of the armed conflict that ended Muammar Qaddafi’s rule in 2011 has been fitful. Authorities are struggling to rein in the militias and root out radical Islamists from the oil-producing east. A timetable for the democratic transition has been largely abandoned while the May 5 passage of a bill to purge senior Qaddafi-era officials from office threatens more delays.

Abu Fnas said the government also aims to cut the country’s reliance on oil and diversify into new industries, such as tourism and transportation. He didn’t elaborate.

“We are feeling our way into some projects that in addition to oil” can help support growth, he said.

Gross domestic product in Libya, holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves, almost doubled in 2012 and may expand 18 percent this year, Central Bank Governor Saddek ElKaber said last month.

Abu Fnas said the government has allocated about $13 billion for infrastructure projects, including housing, transportation and electricity.

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