As Government Program Heralds More Suffering for People and Battle between Islah and GPC over Education [Archives:2001/18/Law & Diplomacy]

April 30 2001

Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi
Yemen Times
The Cabinet approved on Tuesday the overall program that would be presented to the parliament for final approval very soon. The program derives its main goals from the program of the ruling party, GPC, and the speech of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to the new government after its members were sworn in. On these broad lines the government has defined its responsibilities.
The program focuses on the continuation of the policies of economic, administrative, and financial reforms which have conducted with the help of World Bank and IMF since 1995. It also highlights the judiciary, social affairs and reforming a number of legislations and laws, as well as enhancing decentralization.
It aims at fighting corruption, reforming civil services, promoting non-oil resources, curbing problems of water shortage, population, in addition to the electoral system, amending election laws, local governance and administrative divisions of the country into electoral constituencies.
The five main concerns of the new government, formed on April 4, are administrative reform in the civil service, human development, economic, social and investment development, democracy promotion and expansion of public participation, and finally reform of judicial system and human rights concerns.
The program says the government is serious about the reform of the civil service sector, putting limits to dual and phantom job carriers on government payrolls and enacting the Pension Law.
The new government seems to be serious about unification of the education system, putting into practice the law of education which was invalidated in 1990.
This law abolishes the scholastic institutes being sponsored by the Islamic party, Islah. In addition, it prioritizes technical and vocational education as well as higher studies. It also gives women more room in education in an attempt to minimize illiteracy. The rate among them is now over 80%. It also targets the social care authorities to decrease the poverty rate (now over 30%) and put an end to begging. It also intends to improve tourism, culture, environment, by establishing a fund for cultural development.
In the arena of economic and monetary reforms, the program assures that the government will go ahead with the implementation of the reform, controlling the budget deficit and reducing expenses. It will also lift subsidies on diesel, petrol and other services which, of course, would accelerate people’s sufferings. It pledges to conduct financial and banking reforms and work hard to establish a stock market in the country.
The government will implement a five-year plan with the aim of achieving growth between 5%-5.5% in the national gross production during the years 2001-2002. For this, the government will encourage the private sector to invest in services like water, roads, electricity and communications. As well as agricultural manufacturing like mango, wool, dates ,and coffee, and minimizing the planting of qat. It intends to build 318 dams at YR 4 billion, giving attention to the fishing sector.
At the industrial level, the government intends to adopt and conduct a strategy to develop industry and plan for establishing of huge manufacturing complexes in Aden, Hodeidah, and Mukala. It promises to continue efforts to join the World Trade Organization as well as gatherings with similar goals. It will also, according to its program, enhance oil exploration in different areas, giving more attention to gas and its exploitation.
It confirms that it will improve the electrical situation, increasing telephone users to 150,000, mobile phone users 200% and internet users 100% during the coming year.
For the first time in the history of any government, the new government singles out in its program two chapters; one is for civil society and human rights and the other for fighting corruption.
It is a good sign that it acknowledges the horror of corruption and reveals that with democracy and free expressions, joint ventures by all people can be formed to eradicate corruption. Local councils and parliaments can help significantly in this regard. ” It is not possible to uproot corruption in a two-year time”, the program reads. However, it says this time should initiate the campaign against this virus and all people support it.
It is expected that the government’s program will be approved easily as the GPC enjoys a majority in the parliament. However, the Islah caucus will oppose most of the program’s articles, mainly those related to education and economic conditions of the rank and file.
The coming few days will see a heated debate over the question of education unification between Islah and GPC as Islah thinks this targets itself. It heralds a battle between them which might end their age-old strategic coalition which was hit during the local election.
Islah might mobilize the opposition and public opinion against the program which will add fuel to the fire and thus worsen the people’s living standards. The question now is: will the government of Mr. Abdulqader Bajamal be able to face all these problems and put its program into practice, thus creating a link between what is said and done?