With the end of the Libyan crisis in sight, the challenges of working with a new set of authorities should not be “underestimated” but they stemmed primarily from the Libyans’ arduous task of rebuilding their country, Malta Enterprise executive chairman Alan Camilleri told The Sunday Times.

Malta Enterprise is in the final stages of establishing an office in Benghazi which will be run in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to offer what Mr Camilleri said would be touch-down and facilitation services to Maltese businesses which sought to establish links with the local authorities. Malta Enterprise is to deploy a team to man the office which will be open in a few weeks.

“The rule of law in Libya has not been suspended by the National Transitional Council, and, while a new government is in place, this should not be treated any differently at this stage,” Mr Camilleri said.

“Naturally, one should not underestimate the challenges, but these emanate more from the challenging task which the Libyans are presented with – that of rebuilding their political system and redeveloping their infrastructure and economy while dealing with the aftermath of six months of civil strife.”

Mr Camilleri described the situation on the ground in Libya as “still in flux”, and while some Maltese business people were aware of the status of their assets, others had lost contact with their Libyan counterparts.

In June, Foreign Minister Tonio Borg confirmed that Maltese businesses were operating in Benghazi.

Contacts with the NTC representatives who are focusing on economic development were established at political level several weeks ago. Mr Camilleri said co-operation will continue to be strengthened as a way to also support all the efforts which business people will eventually deploy in Libya. Some have already established relations in Benghazi over the past couple of months, he pointed out.

In the crisis, Malta Enterprise has been lending support to local businesses as their operations in Libya ground to a halt.

“So far, our focus has been on alleviating the financial pressures imposed on local companies with operations in Libya, to the extent of facilitating government repay­ments, postponement of remittances to government as well as soft-pedalling on repayment agreements in place,” Mr Camilleri explained.

“While no waivers on any dues have been given, this approach served as a breather for companies which suddenly experienced a tight cashflow situation while they decided to hold on to staff in the hope that the situation does not prolong itself.”

He said the agency also assisted companies which had enough capacity to diversify to find new markets.

Malta officially recognised the NTC as Libya’s legitimate government on Tuesday.

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