TRIPOLI — President Muammar Gaddafi has vowed to personally distribute Libya’s oil wealth among the poor, warning of a backlash because of the growing wealth gap.
“I will intervene in the name of the revolution and confine the [revenues from] oil to the 200,000 poor families,” he told a meeting of the General Planning Council. The comments were carried Tuesday by Libyan TV.
Gaddafi had earlier set his officials a four-month deadline, due to expire in December, for the just distribution of wealth, warning that if this did not happen, he would take it upon himself to give the money away.
“Why do social revolts all over the world erupt? They erupt because of the sense of grievance and inequality” he said. He added: “If fire breaks out, it is very difficult to control it. I am telling those of you who have robbed the wealth: Do not be happy over what you have gained. A day might come on which you would say we wish we were poor and we had not stolen.”
Oil wealth, the country’s number one source of income, is trickling back to Libya after years of international isolation. The country is now open to foreign investment and held two bidding rounds last year. Several more are expected in 2006 and 2007, according to the US Energy Information Administration, the Department of Energy’s data arm.
The Oil and Gas Journal says that Libya had total proven oil reserves of 39 billion barrels at the end of 2005. Wood Mackenzie Consultants say that the country has “excellent” potential for more oil discoveries because large parts remain unexplored for oil.
Libya ranks 105 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, with a CPI score of 2.7. TI’s scale is from 0 to 10 where 0 is highly corrupt and 10 is highly clean. [source]