Gaddafi's reforms are bold but misguided

20 March 2008
Muammar Gaddafi deserves plaudits for recognising the problem with Libya's current system of government. It is bureaucratic, inefficient and prone to rapid and unpredict-able changes in policy.

The country's leader holds responsibility for introducing this system, but at least he has recognised its failings. Although it is also the case that the problems are so chronic that he could not ignore them.

Unfortunately, this praise cannot be extended to his proposed solution. As more details have emerged, so concerns have increased. By scrapping most of the government ministries, he could remove what expertise there is in running most government services.

By forcing members of the public to pay for services that were free until now, he could provoke widespread discontent. What is more, there can be little confidence that the private sector is in a position to take on such responsibility.

Much of the economy is state-controlled and, even if Tripoli opens up even further to international business, it will take time before the skills and business infrastructure are in place to allow private companies to offer all that the government does.

The only crumb of comfort for ordinary Libyans and those trying to do business with the country is that the regime's track record of inefficiency means the reforms are unlikely to be enacted quickly

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