Donors pledge funds to Yemen as conference begins [Archives:2006/999/Front Page]

November 16 2006

By: Yasser Al-Mayasi
SANA'A, Nov. 15 ) Donors Conference activities began Wednesday in London in the presence of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and representatives of donor organizations and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that support Yemen's ailing economy.

At Wednesday's session, GCC nations announced $2.1 billion in aid to Yemen, of which $1 billion is from Saudi Arabia, $500 million from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and $100 million from Oman. The remaining amount will come from other Gulf nations.

Through the Donors' Conference, Yemen aims to increase annual economic growth from 4.1 to 7.1 percent in order to qualify for GCC admission.

In cooperation with the GCC, Yemen prepared a report to diagnose Yemen's need for resources in order to achieve the goals of its third five-year development plan, as well as meet GCC requirements, the cost of which exceeds $48 billion. The Yemeni government also has prepared an investment project to cover the time period of the plan's implementation.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) presented a study to assess the entire cost for Yemen to fully integrate into the GCC bloc. It stressed the necessity of increasing competition, improving efficiency and reducing barriers to transporting commodities and workforce travel.

The study ascertained that Yemen's GCC admission will help achieve economic benefits because this is expected to enhance competition among GCC nations. It anticipates remarkable growth in investment, export volume and employment, while gross domestic production is projected to grow 20 percent in the long run.

According to the study, increasing the level of competition in labor and product markets likely will benefit other Gulf nations more than Yemen, thanks to their strong economies. Developing the structure of markets and the level of competition in GCC countries is expected to reduce Yemen's currency conversion rate and increase GDP by 7 percent in the long run.

Addressing the conference, President Saleh said he hoped the results would be more positive than those of the 2002 conference in Paris, revealing that Yemen utilized only 20 percent of those results.

He reviewed Yemen's reforms process implemented since 1990 and its commitment to the democratic course. “The Yemeni government ensured women all of their legal and democratic rights and its most recent elections featured strong competition. The election was not a political ploy,” Saleh emphasized.