Libya tops 100 percent growth in 2012: IMF

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Libya's economy grew more than 100 percent in 2012 on the back of oil production which had come to a standstill during the country's 2011 revolution, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

"Economic growth in 2012 exceeded 100 percent, reflecting a strong recovery from its collapse during the revolution" which overthrew Muammar Qaddafi, IMF team leader Ralph Chami said following a February 20-March 7 mission to Libya.

Libya's central bank said in a report earlier this week that growth plunged to minus 61 percent in 2011, compared with the three percent positive growth of the year before, because of a 72-percent fall in oil revenues.

Oil and gas account for more than 80 percent of GNP in the North African country and up to 97 percent of its export revenues.

"Latest indicators are pointing to a restoration of hydrocarbon output later this year and a full recovery of growth in the non-hydrocarbon sector in 2014," Chami said in a statement received by AFP.

Inflation, which rocketed to almost 16 percent in 2011, "fell to six percent in 2012, and a further decline is expected this year," Chami said.

He said the lifting of most of the UN sanctions slapped on Kadhafi's Libya including an assets freeze has allowed the central bank "to provide foreign exchange liquidity to banks and help normalise commercial banking operations."

"The short-term challenges are to manage the political transition, normalise the security situation, address severe institutional capacity constraints... and exercise budget discipline while maintaining macroeconomic stability," he said.

Chami said Libyan authorities need to introduce "major changes in economic policies and institutions" to make a significant impact on unemployment.

"Sustainable, employment-generating growth will require a business environment that is conducive to private-sector development with a focus on diversification of the economy to create employment opportunities in the private sector."