Helping Libya Build Strong, Effective and Accountable State Institutions

In April 2015, the World Bank organized a capacity building activity for Libyan civil servants in Istanbul, Turkey. The event was funded by the multi-donor World Bank-administered State and Peace Building Fund. The objective of the event was to offer an overview of how governments work in liberal democracies, specifically how some countries have built their state institutions and public administrations after years of autocratic rule and severe wars.

Transition and conflict-affected country experts from the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, the International Republican Institute, as well as from countries such as Croatia, Romania and Turkey shared their experiences and knowledge with Libyan officials. Participants had the opportunity to discuss and explore how experiences from other countries might be relevant and applicable to the current Libyan context.

Twenty-eight Libyan senior civil servants and technical staff participated, with representatives from these agencies: the Bureau of Statistics and Census, Vision 2030, the National Audit Bureau, State Property Authority, and the General Information Authority. Participants also came from a number of Libyan government ministries, including: Planning, Local Governance, Labor, Economy, Communications, Oil and Gas, Finance, Industry, Electricity, Health, Education, and Housing.

The workshop included nine sessions dealing with the following topics: (i) Setting the stage: experiences, expectations and questions; (ii) An overview of functioning governments, that is, the importance of establishing a strong and effective center of government at an early stage in the transition; (iii) Human resource management, dealing with issues of implementing job cuts, dilemmas regarding salary raises and retention, ghost workers, transparency, and regulation; (iv) Budget process, including budget reform, the need to separate the budget function, and budget strategies; (v) Local governance and decentralization, including issues of sub-national public financial management and procurement, and local level communications and staffing; (vi) Role of institutional checks and balances, including ex-post and ex-ante oversight, financial oversight, the stages of the annual budget process, the oversight role of the parliament in conflict settings, supreme audit institutions organization and good practices, and so on; (vii) Role of information and communication within the government for policy design and monitoring, including the experiences of Turkey and Romania; (viii) a discussion of Vision 2030,one of Libya’s strategic planning document for social development, institutions and economy; and (ix) Fragile and post-conflict countries, presenting the transition experience of countries like Croatia and Romania, and  the challenges encountered during this process, solutions implemented, and how steps were prioritized.

The Libyan participants expressed great satisfaction with the workshop, the topics covered during the discussions and the interactive format of the workshop. They showed an interest in learning more from international best practices on building basic government functions, as well as from the experience of individual countries that have gone through similar transition processes. They also expressed an interest in technical assistance and training regarding the implementation of budget reforms.

Additional activities and workshops are planned for Libyan officials to delve deeper into such issues, again utilizing comparator transition and conflict-affected countries involving experts from international donor agencies and comparator countries.