Investment Conference postponed [Archives:2007/1016/Front Page]

January 15 2007

Yasser Al-Mayasi
SANA'A, Jan. 13 ) The Gulf Cooperation Council's General Secretariat and the Yemeni Industry Ministry announced the postponement of the Investment Conference from February to April. Neither side indicated why they adjourned the conference.

During his visit to Yemen last week, GCC Secretary-General Abdurrahman Al-Atteyyah said the conference was postponed in order to guarantee more effective participation by Gulf investors.

Official sources confirmed that there had been a dispute between the Yemeni government and the private sector regarding the Investment Conference, whereby Yemen is attempting to attract Gulf capital in an effort to help recover investment in the country.

The private sector is criticizing making conference arrangements in its absence, pointing out that the Yemeni government plans to organize the conference alone despite claiming to respect the private sector.

However, Mohammed Al-Maitami, head of the Yemeni side of the conference's preparatory committee, denied that there have been disputes between the private sector and the government, which participated in postponing the event.

“Yemen and the GCC General Secretariat received requests from large and influential regional and international investors that February isn't convenient for them to attend the conference,” Al-Maitami explained.

Yemen's government has revealed its intention to carry out what it calls “a matrix of environmental and investment reforms” with the aim of boosting investment in Yemen and enhancing the private sector's role in investment projects.

The project, which the Yemeni government discussed before Eid Al-Adha, suggests establishing a higher council for partnership between government and the private sector and reinforcing all investment laws concerning production and export benefits, which include exempting products and exports from customs tariffs.

The project recommends the government pass a law to organize the private sector's participation in establishing and running infrastructural institutions, surveying investment opportunities in various economic sectors, drawing up an investment map for these sectors and designing a promotional strategy for such investment opportunities.

According to the project, necessary industrial services must reach several sites nationwide and the government must establish new industry and trade zones on Yemeni borders with its neighbors.

The project also suggests that the Yemeni government will supply power to all promising investment and industrial areas.

The Yemeni government's matrix of environmental and investment reforms contains policies and procedures to construct a railway and conduct a liquefied natural gas project to generate electricity in order to reduce power costs at factories.

The matrix's policies also aim to develop Yemeni ports, particularly basic services and stores, as well as train governmental bodies and the private sector on how to better run investment projects.

Other policies include boosting NGOs' roles, improving the Yemeni judicial system and establishing a securities market.