Citizens blame the governmentMore price reform bashing [Archives:2004/713/Business & Economy]

February 19 2004

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
The question of rising prices of basic foodstuffs and locally-produced or imported goods dominates what's on people's minds these days, especially that most of the citizens are from limited incomes and suffering from a drop in the level of their monthly income, if they even have jobs.
The people in general wonder about the use of the government's implementation of repeated price reforms of diesel, benzene, cooking liquefied gas, electricity and telephone, as well as prices of travel tickets, as long as the deficit in the state budget remains chronic.
In a survey in the capital Sana'a we have found out that many people wonder about what they describe as contradiction between the state direction towards fighting poverty and its resorting to raising prices. They say it does not come in harmony in a country presently producing around half million barrels of crude oil per day.
Citizen Ahmed Farhan al-Shara'bi says there is no way of comparison and no acceptable justification authorizing the government to follow this contradicting course and implement recommendations of the World Bank in a country where most of its people are from the poor and unemployed.
He further says that health and education services offered to the people by the government have receded.
The merchant Nassr Mohammed Al-Raimi asks what do you expect but rise in merchant prices, who have to make up what they have lost because of paying taxes from sale of their goods, adding that the consumer is the victim.
A civil servant Hamoud al-Udaini, working for a private telecommunication center, says when the government decides to carry out a price dose, it gives its employees a certain percentage of increase on their salaries, but those working for the private sector do not get such a proportion and this makes them the victim of high prices more than others.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Ahmed al-Taizi, working for government education sector, confirms that the policy of price reforms over the eight past years has proved to be of no avail for improving performance of the national economy and reducing the deficit of the general budget, as well as its leading to aggravation of problems such as unemployment and stagnation of in the consumer market.
On the other hand the opposition political parties blame the price reforms describing them as not in harmony with poverty of the society. They say the government bears the responsibility for the increase in suffering of the people and subjects its policy to dictates and conditions of the World Bank is flooding the country with debts.
While the government justifies its price reforms because of its deficit, the opposition parties criticize those justifications, saying the government can increase its non-oil exports and gain revenues from safe and non-inflation sources instead of adding more suffering to the life of the people in Yemen.
The government says the private sector has to help, and can contribute to 69% of investments meant for implementation of the strategy for poverty alleviation during the years 2003-2005.