Government’s ‘Corruption’ Justification for Diesel Price Increase: NONSENSE! [Archives:2001/31/Viewpoint]

July 30 2001

Governmental and pro-government independent newspapers have focused in their editorials over the last few days on justifying an increase in the price of diesel by lifting the subsidiary for it.
The editorials openly state that the subsidiary paid by the state actually goes into the pockets of some corrupt officials. Here I would like to quote an editorial of one of those newspapers which attempts to justify the increase of the price of diesel by exposing corruption. The editorial states that “State subsidiaries covering these items used to creep into the pockets of influential but corrupt officials to a greater extent than supporting ordinary citizen consumers.” It continues by saying that “Around YR. 60 milliard paid by the State Treasury annually for subsidizing diesel used to go into the pockets of diesel smugglers who would smuggle it outside the country.”
At this point I would like to ask the government and all those who wrote the editorials a straightforward question: “Wouldn’t it have been wiser for the government to put a stop to the smuggling and other acts of corruption perpetrated by certain corrupt but “influential” individuals instead of taking the easy way out by lifting subsidiaries?”This is a question which the common man everywhere asks. The government openly and clearly states that it understands that the figures involved do not benefit the common citizen, but are lining the pockets of some individuals. Such a justification is itself strong evidence that the government is simply unable to combat those ‘powerful’ individuals and so was forced to lift subsidiaries instead.
What also causes disappointment is the illusion that the government is trying to create for the benefit of the public that this is a positive step which will help people gain a lot in areas like agriculture. Is the government really trying to fool the public? Doesn’t it know that an increase in the price of diesel will trigger widespread price increases on commodities like wheat, rice, bread, and other foodstuffs, as well as on public transport and a wide range of other things in the country? The Yemeni people already live in a miserable enough condition, and such a measure will probably only help in increasing their poverty and misery. Is the government really trying to punish people for their patience over proceeding the years?
Is it too difficult to realize that an increase by 70% in diesel prices hardly balances the 15% increase the government is applying to basic salaries (as opposed to net salaries) of its own employees?
There is now a definite increase in the outrage people feel against the government for taking this step. Not only because they don’t understand that the subsidiary for diesel goes to certain influential figures – many of whom are in fact government officials – but also because the government is trying to justify its actions by revealing its own inability to deter those corrupt individuals from their activities.
It is interesting to note that the new government, just like the former one, could not stop those powerful but corrupt individuals, and hence failed to relieve the public from the need to apply such measures as that of an increase in the price of diesel.
Frankly speaking, there may be two reasons for the government’s inability to stop the activities of those individuals; either the government does not have the power and resources to do so, or those powerful individuals are far stronger and more powerful than the government could ever be!
I know that these two reasons may still be sufficient for the government to justify its actions, but nevertheless I sincerely hope that it is not for the second reason that the government took this step. Otherwise, this could be an ominous sign which may very well threaten Yemen’s future progress.