Development and statistics [Archives:2004/743/Business & Economy]

June 3 2004

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
Prior to the unification of Yemen, the country undertook a number of development programs such as the 1971 and 1973 programs in the southern and northern governorates, respectively. Then the country began embracing five-year development plans, in the form of the 1974-1978, 1984- 1986 and 1986-1990 development plans in the southern governorates, and with the 1976-1981, 1982-1986 and 1987-1991 development plans in the northern governorates.
The three five-year development plans were not concerted and were carried out amid an absence of any available statistics, and thus represented a major hurdle in front of the goal of having viable plans in all of the governorates of the country. Nevertheless, those programs contributed to the formation of a preliminary database, outlining aspects of social and economic deficiencies in Yemeni society.
It is worth mentioning that the follow-up of the implementation of the three development plans and evaluating the accomplishments assisted in collecting a lot of statistical information and details previously not available. During the implementation periods, population censuses were held in 1973 and 1975 in the southern and northern governorates, respectively.
The first series of timetables for national accounts were begun. Several apparatuses related to the financial aspects were established. They were concerned with collecting, categorizing and dispersing essential statistics on the monetary situation, bank loans, and trade and payment balances with the outside world, in addition to submitting reports about the states' revenues and expenditures and fiscal budgets and closing statements.
Several ministries assumed the responsibility to implement statistical programs about the activities of the affiliated branches. A sizeable portion of the statistical work has been accomplished and a database has been founded, but there are still several deficiencies that hinder development operations:
1- The information system is rather an old-fashioned one in terms of collecting and obtaining information or in the pace of the flow of collected information among networks and information channels.
2- Executive programs and general fiscal budgets were subject to special considerations.
3- The weak mechanism for implementing and evaluating projects at the central and sectoral level.
As far as the development of a management apparatus, it became a government one, and the goal to unify the number of graduates with the need for development was not achieved during all the development plans. The government administration was transformed into a social care center for disguised unemployment, random hiring and the administrative apparatus inflated. Training was not up to the level of expectation. There was no comprehensive strategic plans for development.
After the unification of the country, several difficulties and major economic and social problems were encountered leading to:
1- The creation of long-term strategic development plans, and directing attention to resolve economic and financial problems in an annual frame, in addition to laying down medium-term development plans and founding a mechanism to follow up the implementation.
2- The need to create a competent technical apparatus capable of formulating policies and plans and to follow up the implementation of them.
3- the expansion of the scope of participation of various effective corporations in outlining the goals of development and in providing requirements at all levels including regional planning.
The national program for political, financial and administrative reforms, approved by the parliament on 15/12/1991, targeted the correction of deficiencies that had accompanied development plans in the past periods. It was aimed at developing the branches of the national economy, the effective utilization of the economic administration to ensure the building of a solid economic and financial base, the increase of production and the improvement of the living conditions of citizens.
Although statistical work has improved now, the connection of strategic plans with statistics and use of the information of the Central Statistics Organization as a reliable database are not decisively adopted. The plans still depend primarily on the details collected from ministries, which are independently gathered, not according to the definitions set by statistics. Moreover, the collected information by ministries is not precise and is always contradictory to the information available at statistics, and from one year to another, they are inconsistent with official statistics. This is one of the primary hurdles facing statistical work, which is patently clear due to the following factors:
1- Information is not unified
2- Contradictions and inconsistencies in information collected studies.
3- Weakness of statistical units at the relevant ministries and authorities.

There is no doubt that statistical work began to develop after the unification of the country. The Central Statistics Apparatus carried out a population and housing census in 1994, as well as 17 field surveys, which were implemented to locate different economic and social phenomena. The effectiveness of the statistical work was enhanced in recent years following the decision of the Council of Ministers in 1999 to establish and activate the statistical units in ministries and their offices in the governorates, and to consider the Central Statistics Organization as the official source of information.
Furthermore, the organization has initiated work to produce a unified statistical system, which would be a guide for all workers in the field of statistics. It has commenced work to unify statistical work in order for the organization to become a viable and reliable source for information capable of furnishing the necessary and required information.