Four Months Since New Government Took Office: AN ASSESSMENT [Archives:2001/33/Viewpoint]

August 13 2001

This week signals the completion of the fourth month since Bajammal’s government took office. Today, we can sit and calmly try to assess the situation in an unbiased manner. Due to the limitation of area and time, one cannot give an adequate assessments of all the different ministries one by one. But I could perhaps attempt to give an overall assessment of the main sectors that are of great interest for the Yemeni public. Those sectors are mainly security, economy, and public services including education, health, etc.
Let us take the different sectors one by one. Starting with security, people still do not see any positive changes. Weapons are still being carried everywhere in the cities, and there is no decline in the level of security incidents, even though there has been a number of plans to take shape in the near future. Kidnappings continue to cause damage to the tourism industry, and not enough measures have been taken. Dr. Rashad Al-Alimi, the newly appointed Minister of Interior is not to blame because any constructive reforms within the Ministry of Interior requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Perhaps we should also try to encourage him in his tough task. As one eye witness told me once, “I came into the office of Dr. Rashad, and could see him trying to handle tens of incidents and issues all at once. He seemed truly stressed and frustrated.” However, there should always be some slight change to the better so as to give the public a little bit of hope. We are still awaiting strong measures in this regard.
If we pass on to the economy, we would realize that the latest developments concerning the diesel price increase have caused tremendous damage to the normal citizen in the short-term. The worsening economic conditions may be attributed to a stable -if not increasing- level of corruption, mismanagement, limited resources, rapid population growth, plus other issues. Those need to be tackled while implementing the economic reform in order to have any significant improvement.
Public services such as education, health, and civil services are still not delivered efficiently to the public. The 15% raise in the salaries of governmental employees has been called “a maneuver to silent public outrage” because it would not be enough at all to combat the expected hike in prices of goods, etc. Plans to improve public education and health services are there. It is only a matter of time officials say for those enhancements to be reflected in the daily lives of Yemenis. However, no one can deny that electricity outages and lack of sufficient water for neighborhoods in major cities are causing a feeling if disappointment among the public.
However, the picture is not that dark after all. Among all of those miseries, there are a number of ministers that proved worth the trust given to them. The Minister of Information, Mr. Hussein Al-Awadhi is a clear example. His reforms in the TV establishment has drawn the attention of all. He has established the Journalists Club that is open to all journalists resembling the phrase “we are all on the same boat.” He openly accepts journalists to come to his office without appointments, and uses all his power for the goodness of the press freedom in the country. Another example is the Minister of Communications Mr. Abulmalik Al-Muallimi who has proven that he is well fit for the job as he reduced the bureaucracy and corruption that used to take place in the establishments belonging to the ministry to extremely low levels. Even the Minister of Interior needs to be praised for the great improvements in the traffic regulations that have started to shape up recently.
There are positive as well as negative developments. However, we need not to let the government down. They still have the time to prove that they are worth the trust given to them by the country’s leadership. All they need to do is work harder and more efficiently and they would reach their point. May God be with them all.