In an interview with our source, Aoun reveals the legality of Sanalla’s decision to stop revenues and his ministry’s opinion on the latest developments in the oil closure

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The Minister of Oil and Gas in the Government of National Unity, Mohamed Aoun, said in an exclusive interview with our source, “What the National Oil Corporation has done recently is in violation of the procedures followed, and this is contained in the statements of the Chief of the Audit Bureau in particular.”

He added: “The National Oil Corporation is a purely technical institution that is supposed to supply the amounts of revenue to the Libyan Foreign Bank and from it to the Central Bank within 48 hours. This is customary, and any other action taken by the Corporation, whether by external or internal dictates, is considered opposite.”

He continued: “The public manager is responsible for the budgets that are set by the House of Representatives and the government, and does not exceed them in spending. In the last period, Mr. Sanalla stated that the institution owed 6.5 billion Libyan dinars. The question here is whether it is for approved projects, or is it for various abuses!”

He continued, “We asked the Corporation for a detailed presentation of these debts and the additional expenses of the oil companies, and we did not receive any response that we will submit to the government to support it. Here, we recall that the government supported the Corporation when we received it in March of last year with one billion Libyan dinars from the emergency budget.”

He also said: “Negative repercussions will be present on all Libyans because of what the institution is doing, and the Central Bank says in its reports that it may have to withdraw from the reserve balance.”

He added: “What we are witnessing today is one of the disadvantages of bad management of this vital sector, and it is necessary to take firm action in particular. I issued a decision at the end of last month to cancel the assignment of the head of the National Oil Corporation and asked the government to form a new board of directors for the corporation.”

He also stated: “We have not received any decision from the Audit Bureau regarding the suspension of the Chairman of the Directors Board of the National Oil Corporation, but the points issued by the Audit Bureau are clear and specific, and it seems that it will take legal measures to address this issue. We have been submitting memoranda to the Council of Ministers for a while, announcing our reservations about the measures Mustafa Sanalla is taking.”

He added: “Two separate memoranda from two groups of deputies submitted to the Council of Ministers last year a request to change the board of directors of the National Oil Corporation. Assigning the current board of directors is illegal under Resolution n° 3 and Resolution n° 50 of 2014 and the long or short time these administrative problems take, won’t be an excuse for correction.”

Aoun said: “Sanalla took some of the measures that caused the wealth of the Libyans to be wasted and more than 10 billion and 900 million were kept with foreign companies. This act amounts to an economic crime. Therefore, it is assumed that he should be imprisoned instead of being in office so far.”

He commented: “The statement issued by the General Union of Oil and Gas Workers includes many abuses towards the Audit Bureau, which is considered a sovereign regulatory body that should not be violated under any circumstances. Exposure to oversight bodies and belittling their value offends the perpetrator of this act before anyone else.”

Aoun also spoke by saying: “In the presence of Mustafa Sanalla, we expect everything, even for the institution to give up its impartiality and independence and take sides. Legally, he is not the head of this institution, for me. He is suspended from work by Resolution N°50 of October 14, 2021. He was assigned through a decision of the Undersecretary of the Ministry and therefore should not be relied upon at all.”

Finally, he pointed out: “We, as the Ministry of Oil and Gas, are not in favor of using the oil sector as a means and threatening to close the fields to achieve any claims, and it must be neutralized from such conflicts because it belongs to all Libyans.”

“What was issued by the General Command Committee is just a proposal and a report submitted to the higher authority, and we hope that this proposal will not be responded to by closing the oil fields. Of course, the Council of Ministers cannot take any action in this regard, given that the eastern region is under the control of the army there.”

“The absence of a ministry of oil and gas in the Libyan government, which is mandated by the House of Representatives is a proper procedure, as I think, as it is one of the most important ministries, and its minister has the powers that no other minister has in issuing executive regulations. I am surprised that the only source of income for the Libyan state can be left without a ministry. Such a decision is absolutely unjustified and this ministry should not be abolished. This fluctuation in the administration of the state will not produce sound foundations for its establishment.”

In conclusion, he said: “We invite all parties present to give priority to the interest of the country and respect the law to enforce it, and I ask the Council of Ministers to review the recommendations submitted by the Ministry of Oil and Gas regarding the formation of a board of directors for the National Oil Corporation.”