STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Tripoli.
LOURDES GARCIA: Money is tight in both sides of Libya. And yesterday at a news conference here in Tripoli, Gadhafi's finance minister accused the international community of trying to steal Libya's money and give it to the rebels. And Abdulhafid Zlitni promised a legal war to get it back.
ABDULHAFID ZLITNI: Piracy. That is financial piracy. They have no right to do that, unless they have a clear mandate from the United Nations Security Council. It is theft.
GARCIA: There is no doubt that Western Libya is feeling the effects of the sanctions here. All you have to do is travel around Tripoli to see it.
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GARCIA: Most stores are not doing brisk business, if they're open at all. In hard times, people don't buy. They hoard their money. Riyad al-Shareef works at an electronics store.
RIYAD AL: (Foreign language spoken)
GARCIA: The lack of foreign workers has even affected things like bread. Egyptians used to be the bread bakers in Libya, but almost all have gone now.
ZLITNI: This is one of the bad habits that oil in developing countries will do, you see. Import labor, and they become lazy. They don't work.
GARCIA: For decades, Libya has been printing its money - the Libyan dinar - in England. But their latest shipment of cash has been impounded, Zlitni says. The government, he says, was caught completely unprepared, and that means nothing was in place to protect the economy from the sanctions.
ZLITNI: One must say the truth. I mean, we did not expect this even to happen.
GARCIA: There are also restrictions on how much money you can withdraw from the bank. And they're doubling interest rates to encourage people to put their money into savings accounts. But says Zlitni...
ZLITNI: Yeah, they're worried.
GARCIA: No one knows how long this crisis will last.
ZLITNI: Fear is irrational behavior. You know, everybody is afraid, you know, of one thing or the other, until they become certain.
GARCIA: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Tripoli.
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