February 18, 2009 / 3:35 PM / 10 years ago

Libya's income from sovereign fund $2.3 billion: report

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya’s sovereign wealth fund investments abroad total $50.58 billion and have returned profits of $2.37 billion since the scheme started in 2006, an official report showed on Wednesday.

Stacks of one hundred dollar notes are piled up at the Korea Exchange Bank in Seoul, October 16, 2008. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

More than 78 percent of the money, or $39.81 billion, was invested in short-term financial instruments abroad, added the summary of the report published by Libyan newspaper Oea, which is close to Saif al Islam, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s most influential son.

The fund’s long-term investment share was more than $8.0 billion spread into stocks of 107 firms, 65 percent of which are located in North Africa, 20 percent in Asia, with the remaining 15 percent in companies in Europe and North and South America.

The report, which was submitted to Libya’s Basic People Congresses — bodies entitled to vet the investment strategy and other economic policy by the government.

Of the $2.374 billion profits made since 2006, $598.6 million were earned in the January-September 30 period last year, according to the report, which gave no details about the performance of the fund since the end of September.

The rare release of the report appeared aimed at scotching widespread worries among Libyans that the country’s oil wealth and its investments abroad could be squandered by government officials, whom Gaddafi accused last week of graft and mismanagement.

On Saturday, Gaddafi called on Libyans to back his proposal to disband all the cabinet ministers and top government officials and get the oil wealth directly.

Gaddafi did not comment directly on the country’s investment overseas, but said more than $30 billion in oil revenue should be handed out to Libyans each year.

His scheme to give oil revenues directly to Libyans had run up against opposition from senior officials, who stand to lose their jobs in a government shutdown.

Officials had told Gaddafi in November the move could do long-term damage to the OPEC member country’s economy

Gaddafi argues the only way to rid the state of what he says is entrenched and widespread corruption is to sweep off the whole government structure.

Libya’s Basic People Congresses (LBPCs) are due to decide on Gaddafi’s plan when they begin five-day gatherings later on Wednesday.

The LBPCs are the backbone of Libya’s Jamahiriya regime as they are effectively the country’s top executive and legislative bodies.

They represent people at district and village levels across the country and vote laws and government’s policy.

In practice, however, Gaddafi decides on key policy, particularly on oil.

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