Defends price hikes, admonishes GCC commentsBajammal speaks out [Archives:2004/708/Front Page]

February 2 2004

Mohammed bin Sallam
In an effort to defend government moves to hike prices on certain goods,Yemen's Prime Minister Abdulqader Bajammal says the increase in Yemen is due to price hikes in other parts of the world.
Yemen is not isolated in a global economy, and governments and tradesmen are no longer able to hide any secrets about prices of any goods, said Bajammal, in a recent interview with the Qatari newspaper al-Raya.
The prime minister says when prices of wheat are raised in the world, that is to be reflected in similar rises in the price of flour. And the same thing applies to oil prices that would naturally lead to the rise in wages of transport services. Thus the issue has become both worldwide and local.
The prime minister confirmed the Yemeni government's determination not to return to any totalitarian regime, but, depending on the rationing card and the public sector, he stressed that the government cannot perform magic in the face of economic crises governed by external factors.
Bajammal said the government was thinking of implementing a new system of integrated economics, noting there wouldbe limited exposure through raised salaries and the minimum scale of wages. This could be a kind of compensation for people of limited income.
There would also be new timelines for customs duties, so that Yemen could move closer to customs levels of GCC states and other neighbouring countries. This would help very much to implement an integrated economy.
On the impact of Yemen joining the GCC, or not, the prime minister clarified that the economic situation in Yemen and the GCC states would witness a recovery in case of accession.
The recovery would come because Yemen embraces a consumer market amounting to 21 million consumers. Consequently if there is another non-petroleum industry in the Gulf looking for suitable markets, it would not find it except in Yemen's market. Gulf investors would also show willingness to invest in projects inside Yemen, which would create new job opportunities and consequently benefits would be reciprocal, said the prime minister.

Not happy abo ut GCC comments
Bajammal expressed his admonition towards Gulf states leaders for recent statements in which they said Yemen was not qualified for joining the GCC, wondering about the concepts, conditions and rules of qualification and whether they were close or far in addition to the required yardsticks.
He has made it clear that Yemen deals with the question of joining the GCC within the context of strategic, civilization, economic and security harmony extending to the coming generations. He said according to that perspective, Yemen and the GCC countries have to be together because of their historical, geographic and civilization depth that is considered the main center of Arabian civilization. Yemen's absence from the GCC system constitutes a loss for both Yemen and the Arabian peninsula peoples.
President Ali Abdulla Saleh, in an interview to a Kuwaiti newspaper, recently ridiculed objections by some leaders of the GCC states regarding Yemen accession to the system, saying “we have begun with football games and later the basketball and other games in the field of our presence in the GCC.''
Meanwhile, Yemeni weekly newspaper Al-Ra'y Al-A'am in its Jan. 20 issue quoted Yemeni citizens as calling the Yemeni president to keep away from the GCC and to work for development of the tripartite grouping that includes Yemen, Sudan and Ethiopia, for their economic, political and security importance, at present and future and working for the formation of a common defense.
The newspaper added that many Yemeni citizens had denounced the statements made by Gulf officials. They said regional circumstances gave them the feeling of being wealthy and looking from top to a deep-rooted country as Yemen.