A Ministry under the spotlight [Archives:2007/1044/Opinion]

April 23 2007

Mohammed Al-Ariqi
With the Yemeni market being open to foreign markets and the government ceasing its control of most of the basic commodities, some of those interested in the domestic affairs thought that the monitoring and commercial role, which the state has been exercising through what was known as the Ministry of Supply and Trade, has already ended. The market actions, particularly prices, have become based on supply and demand.

It has been made clear that chaos, development of greed and gluttony behaviors, monopoly, and cheat creep to the wholesale and retail stores while the consumer is always the victim. We expect the state's monitoring role, which cares for consumer protection, to be resumed via the new cabinet formation and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which usually becomes shocked at the first barrier it faces, thus attracting the public attention toward it.

The new cabinet formation was preceded by price hiking of some basic merchandises such as wheat, flour, and sugar. Such price hikes make the ordinary citizen more sensitive toward the state's policy. Further, the situation helps the opportunistic people to exploit the ordinary citizens for political matters and gain their support.

It is assumable that the Ministry of Industry and Trade may have the list of factors behind price hikes. Any how, it faces a great challenge. Also, it has to assert itself in the market and manifest its status and the significance of its role so as to gain the confidence of the consumer.

Certainly, the challenge posed to the performance of the Ministry of Industry and Trade isn't that easy and it is advised not to rely on its apparatuses, offices, and limited instruments in order to control the rhythm of the market and to purify it from monopoly and those who play with prices, as well as those who don't abide by the quality specifications. In fact, all these things need solidarity and cooperation of the concerned parties, supported by the Prime Minister since the first test of the new cabinet is the market stability, which it should successfully pass.

The role, which the government is expected to play in order to keep prices stable, isn't a new indicator. Rather, the issue is taken into consideration and is a point of interest for the political leadership. President Ali Abdullah Saleh spoke about this more clearly when he chaired the first meeting of the new cabinet. Also, he demanded the new cabinet to improve citizens' living standards. Those points were re-emphasised by Prime Minister Ali Mujawar when he placed those issues at the top of his government's agenda.

The veteran Yahya Al-Mutawakel, who leads the Ministry of Industry and Trade, has scientific, practical, and referential thoughts that have been closely related with the real-life situation with all its dimensions and directions for a long time period. Al-Mutawakel is extremely engaged in researches and studies that diagnose the various social and economic conditions of the society.

In addition to the great tasks required from the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the current stage, during which Yemen prepares for a distinctive move forward plus the economic reforms and the openness so as to attract investments at the local, regional, and international levels, Al-Mutawakel doesn't forget about the role of his ministry in maintaining competition and preventing monopoly and price hikes to ensure protection of the consumer. To do his duty efficiently, he needs to update the legislations, law, and order so that he can enliven the conscience of those concerned to be honest, credible, and loyal to their homeland.

Source: Al-Thawrah Daily