Citizens’ living problems throughout 15 years of unity [Archives:2005/843/Business & Economy]

May 19 2005

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
The people of Yemen almost agree that the unity attained on 22 May 1990 was a great accomplishment for the homeland. It has united human potentials and created numerous opportunities for the travel of people among the country's governorates. But every great event would be faced with challenges and woes.

The ecstasy the unity has created would be complete with sustainable development, founding work opportunities, development of the society with science and knowledge and keeping in line with advancement taking place in every branch of technology sciences and the technology of communication and in other various fields.

What impression the ordinary people bear towards their economy and circumstances of their daily living? Has the unity realized their dreams in equality and creation of job opportunities for the unemployed returning to labour market following the second Gulf war and Iraq invasion of Kuwait? What indications do those of limited incomes perceive regarding their living standards?

So many questions have been put before the ordinary people of the Yemeni society included a mini-bus driver living on returns of his daily fees received from carrying passengers, a worker seeking a job opportunity, another peddler selling goods in a cart and another citizen working in a tailoring workshop. All of whom are in Sana'a.

The mini-bus driver says the Yemeni unity is a great event but the problem emerged before him is that of reforms brought forth by successive governments for the purpose of improving performance of economy. He says, regretfully those reforms have increased the number of the poor and added new suffering, providing labour market with various kinds of unemployment.

Some of them unemployed old university degrees and others do not possess qualifications but have technical experiences, especially at some institutions and sectors that have been privatized. This problem lies in non-availability of a solution in parallel to it undertaken by the government. That means the unity state does not bear responsibility for the consequences of the economic crisis and the drop in income of needy families. The driver added if I did not have this bus to work, our living would have been almost impossible due to non-existence of job opportunities.

A worker sees that the state of the unity is an accomplishment for the people of Yemen, however, after its commencement on 22 May 1990, it led to an increase in the number of the rich and some officials have become very wealthy. It is unbelievable how some officials have changed into investors and owners of large real estates, whereas the poor were not able to obtain work opportunities despite the state mentioning about huge developments, economic accomplishments and gains.

The same worker admits that the state has built roads, schools and health centers but asks what are the benefits of infrastructure installations at a time the Yemeni citizens continue to suffer from unemployment and face hard living conditions.

A worker at a market selling used goods, spent a long time in quest of a job opportunity and mentions that they gain an amount that hardly ensures their daily living. It is a kind of bitter life we are leading while we see the influential develop more richness, possess luxurious cars and big assets in banks. Against this situation, “we at the market selling used goods can't even ensure a living for our children for two days.

A peddler sees that it is supposed that the unity of the people and land has come for the realization of justice among the people and stabilization of new values of equality and removing grievances of citizens because it is a noble goal achieved for all. However, the reality is quite the contrary. The poor are suffering and assistance of the state and grants of the World Bank and donor organizations ensure but small amount of requirements for the high cost of living.

Fifteen years before, a gallon of cooking oil was 15 riyals but now it costs 450 riyals, a sack of wheat flour was 80 riyals and now it costs 3000 riyals. Currently there are ridiculous prices resulting from the weakening of our purchasing powers. It is a pitiable situation.

A worker working in the tailoring profession believes in the Yemeni unity and thinks it has realized his political dreams, removing from his causes of grief as division has gone for good. He has no doubt that the Yemeni unity has come for the entire homeland.

However, he supports what is mentioned about the Yemeni economy that is staggering under burdens of the corrupt that have been influential for a long time, robbing even the gifts and assistance offered by donor countries and sides and also gaining the bigger parts of the state budget. He says the corrupt have nothing but money piling up and are depriving the simple people of their legitimate rights to gain work opportunities and ensure living for their children.

That is the vision the Yemeni people see about the Yemeni unity, which has been associated with democratic pursuit, recognition of the principle of political pluralism and respect of public and individual freedom and human rights.