TUNIS, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Libya earned $14 billion in oil revenues in 2017, nearly three times more than in the previous year, allowing it to halve its budget deficit, the central bank said, amid a partial recovery in oil output despite continued political and economic turmoil.
Libya’s budget deficit for 2017 stood at 10.6 billion Libyan dinars ($7.85 billion), down from 20.3 billion dinars the previous year, the bank said in statement published late on Thursday. Oil revenues had totalled $4.8 billion in 2016.
Its oil earnings accounted for more than 86 percent of Libya’s total national revenues of 22.31 billion dinars.
Of 32.7 billion dinars worth of state spending, 20.3 billion dinars went on state salaries and 6 billion dinars on subsidies, the statement said.
The figures show the partial recovery last year in oil production slightly slowing the otherwise rapid economic decline of a nation still dogged by armed conflict and political upheaval more than seven years after the overthrow of veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Economists say the central bank’s figures are unlikely to reflect a complete picture, because the institution has been split for several years between its Tripoli headquarters and a rival branch loyal to a government based in eastern Libya.
Libya has been divided since 2014 between rival institutions and warring factions based in the east and west.
However, the central bank in Tripoli has continued to control oil revenues, which account for nearly all the country’s income, and to disburse them across the country.
Oil production, in decline from 2013, recovered to around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) last year, but this is still well below the more than 1.6 million bpd Libya was pumping before the 2011 uprising.
Living standards have dropped sharply, with inflation running at around 30 percent and the dinar slipping on the black market to around 9 dinars to the dollar.
Foreign reserves have fallen to an estimated $67.5 billion, compared to $123.5 billion in 2012, according to the World Bank.
The central bank said in November it had agreed on currency and spending reforms with the internationally recognised government in Tripoli, but it is unclear when the plan will be carried out. ($1 = 1.3498 Libyan dinars) (Editing by Gareth Jones)
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