After heated debate and disagreement between Sheikh al-Ahmar and Ba JammalGovernment’s program endorsed [Archives:2003/642/Front Page]

June 19 2003

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
After a heated debate for three days, the Yemeni parliament endorsed with majority last Thursday the governments program. Two hundred and one parliamentarians voted in favor of the approval of the government's program while 39 including speaker Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar voted against it. Only seven MPs abstained from the voting, which was carried out in a traditional way as the electronic voting set was malfunctioning.
In an extraordinary session held last Thursday by the parliament to approve the government's program, the opposition caucus lashed out at the program and demanded that some recommendations be made following the debate, which they called upon the government to take into account.
Opposition MPs demanded a government pledge not to raise prices again in basic services like electricity, water and oil derivatives. They also demanded that the government increase salaries of civil and military workers by 50% and widen the capacity of the social insurance network to include 100,000 persons of the poor every year. They said that government must allow free electronic media -including private TV and radio channels- to emerge.
However, Prime Minister Abdulqader Ba Jammal said that the parliament by-law does not oblige the government to take into considerations any of the recommendations and notes made by the MPs.
Then, Al-Ahmar told Ba Jammal that a committee can be set to formulate the recommendations or delay the voting of endorsement. However, Ba Jammal refused and insisted that the voting taking place immediately, which created hustle and bustle in the parliament. Therefore, al-Ahmar burst into anger and accused Ba Jammal of blackmailing the parliament and not respecting its by-laws. He said Bajammal only wanted to get the approval and didn't care about the debate.
Ba Jammal said that his government is ready to increase the salaries of the civil and military workers provided that the parliament endorses laws that would enable his government to increase taxes and customs.
The opposition caucus accused in a statement distributed in the parliament the government of being unable to curb corruption in its last program. It also criticized the government because it has committed itself to fighting terrorism while its meaning is still obscure and not defined by the UN. The opposition said that the government blindly follows the US in its understanding of the term.
The statement said the government did not provide any figures in the program and did not restrict its implementation to a specific period of time. It added that it has no clear fiscal policy as there is always deficiency in the budget. It also criticized the draft laws of sale taxes. It pointed out that the government's talk on human rights is only meant to show off before the world in a time great violation of these rights are taking place in the form of random arrests and firing defiant employees from public posts.