By Essam Mohamed
Ramadan has a different flavour this year in Libya. Security concerns are growing as fast as the price of milk, meat and other staples.
Economy Minister Mustafa Abu Fanas tried to pre-empt the price hikes by saying that the country had 6-month supplies of certain commodities. ”We’re always following up on stocks to ensure we have enough,” Abu Fanas added.
However, Jalal al-Zatrini, owner of a big food supermarket in Tripoli, said prices changed one week before Ramadan, and milk and its derivatives went up by a quarter dinar.
“The problem is that markets are very crowded because of families’ failure to get their needs well before Ramadan; most families get them at the end of Shaaban although they can get some before that,” said Nahla Bin Mahmoud, a 40-year-old housewife.
“These things aren’t affected by anything except employees waiting for their salaries,” she said.
The increase in the price of meat has also been noticeable. The economy minister attributed this to attacks on a number of farms during the revolution, the death of livestock because of a dependency on foreign labourers who left the country, and also because of Libya’s dependency on importing large quantities of sheep and camels, which stopped.
“We have a plan as of now for Eid al-Adha to provide up to 1 million head of sheep, and the Cabinet has approved the Ministry of Economy’s plan in this regard,” Abu Fanas said.
Kamal Adin al-Maslati, 35, noted that prices for meat had gone up “by two dinars and more”.
“It’s difficult to control price hikes these days, due to the spread of arms and inability of control agencies, municipal guards and judicial officers to follow up on prices or do their jobs seriously without fear because they lack resources,” he told Magharebia.
“I think that it’ll take some time before prices stabilise and the army and police are activated,” he added.
“The biggest thing worrying me is what’s happening in Benghazi, which I hope will be stabilised now that the special operations troops have been deployed,” said Youssef al-Jebali, a 62-year-old retiree.
“I hope they will put an end to security breaches so people can live the joy of Eid and life go on. I also hope that the government will declare a state of emergency during Eid and be cautious,” he said.
Laila Salem a 35-year-old Tripoli resident, said: “We are worried but it will not stop us from celebrating Eid.”
“What bothers us are the power outages and the unknown that could hit us due to the absence of the police and the army,” added Khalifa al-Mahmoudi a clothing store owner
Still, he said, sales were good.
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