EconSource: Libya’s Internationally Backed Government May Block Exports by Some Oil Companies

Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk may block exports via oil companies that refuse to deal with its new state oil company, an official said on Tuesday. The eastern government has formed its own National Oil Company (NOC) to compete with the existing Tripoli-based NOC, however, international companies and traders have maintained their long-established contacts with the NOC and shunned its eastern counterpart. Speaking to reporters Tuesday ahead of a meeting with oil companies, eastern NOC Chief Nagi al-Maghrabi said his government “will launch legal proceedings against” oil buyers still dealing with its Tripoli rival. The Tobruk government could block loadings “as a second step if [companies] continue to deal with the illegal [national oil company],” Maghrabi said. Libya’s eastern oil terminals currently export about 200,000 barrels a day, making up more than two-thirds of the country’s overall shipment, he added. [WSJ, Bloomberg, 9/15/2015]

Algeria considering 2016 tax hikes, import duties to cover deficit
Algeria is considering higher taxes, import duties, and a hike in subsidized diesel and electricity prices to help cover its deficit after a slump in crude oil prices eroded its revenues, a preliminary draft of its 2016 budget showed. The government has said it expects Algeria’s energy export earnings to fall 50 percent to $34 billion this year. This could exacerbate Algeria’s trade deficit, which reached $8.041 billion in the first seven months of 2015, compared to a $3.9 billion surplus in the same period last year. Officials have said the deficit will not impact subsidy policies, but authorities are seeking alternatives to fill the gap. According to a copy of the 2016 preliminary draft, the government plans to raise the value-added tax (VAT) for electricity from 7 percent to 17 percent when consumption exceeds 125 kilowatt hour. Diesel oil prices will increase slightly to 14.98 dinars a liter from 13.70 dinars. The VAT hike will also apply to 3G internet services and new vehicles. When finalized, the draft will pass to parliament for final approval. [Reuters, 9/15/2015]

Iraqi 2016 budget proposal sees deficit of $25.8 billion
Iraq’s Finance Ministry has proposed a 2016 government budget worth 113.5 trillion Iraqi dinars ($99.65 billion) with a budget deficit of 29.4 trillion Iraqi dinars ($25.81 billion), according to a draft posted online on Wednesday. The budget forecasts oil prices at around $45 a barrel and average production of 3.6 million barrels per day (bpd), up from the current rate of about 3 million bpd. The 2016 budget assumes continued agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over oil revenues. The KRG, however, has steadily increased independent crude oil sales via a pipeline to Turkey, effectively undoing the deal. Iraq’s deficit has also aggravated by higher military expenditures and other costs associated with the fight against Islamic State. The budget proposal said the financing gap would be filled with credits from multinational agencies–including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund–in addition to international and local bonds each valued at more than $6 billion.[Reuters, 9/16/2015]

Tunisia seeks to cut joblessness through higher growth
Tunisia on Tuesday unveiled the outlines of a five-year plan to cut unemployment by stimulating growth. The plan, published by the development ministry, envisages average annual gross domestic product growth of 5 percent, starting off with a moderate gain next year and accelerating from 2018. The higher growth, stimulated by better governance, diversification, and regionalization of the economy, would see unemployment dropping from 15.2 percent to 11 percent by 2020. The budget deficit would also be trimmed. Tunisia’s economy grew 1 percent in 2014 and is expected to grow only 0.5 percent in 2015. Joblessness stands at nearly 30 percent, hitting the youth the hardest. [AFP, 9/15/2015]

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