Mr. Prem Garg to Yemen Times: “WB-Yemen Dialogue of the Past Few Years Has Been Very Constructive and Very Cooperative.” [Archives:2000/22/Interview]

May 29 2000

The World Bank is playing an essential role in monitoring the implementation of the economic reforms program in Yemen. It is very close to the Yemeni government and has been providing the support as well as the consultancy to help Yemen improve its economy. Mr. Prem Garg, Director of the Quality Assurance Group in the World Bank, came to Yemen on 12\5\2000 to review the projects financed by the World Bank, listen to the beneficiaries and agencies implementing those projects so as to find out how the bank can do its job better and how it can be of more help. Tawfeek Al-Shara’abi of the Yemen Times met with him and filed the following interview:
Q:Would you please shed some light on the presentation conducted by the World Bank?
A: The presentation was indeed to show what can be presented and recommended by the WB in order to provide better quality services to our borrowers and to the beneficiaries of the project funded by Bank. We are very keen that the facilities we provide be labeled as the best professional advice. Besides, these projects are designed in a way that they have the greatest impact in eliminating poverty and promoting the economic development of these countries.
Q: How do you assess Yemen’s drive in implementing these reforms?
A: I think that Yemen faces some very major challenges; but in the past three or four years the government has been dealing with them pretty well. Lots of progress has been made in stabilizing the economy and putting it in a more sustainable foothold.
The implementation of the portfolio of the bank financed project has actually improved tremendously. Yemen used to be one of the most risky countries portfolios. But it is now among the best ones. We are quite gratified with all the progress that has been made in speeding up the implementation base.
Q: What are the steps to be followed by the Yemeni government to overcome the economic crisis?
A: Yemen has already taken very important steps in terms of reforming its economy. Obviously, in the short-run, some of these steps may have an adverse impact on some segments of the society. However, in the long-run they will be helpful. If these steps were not taken, the situation would be even worse.
But probably many of the reforms in the economic side have not been implemented. The biggest of such reforms pertains to reforming the public services in terms of staffing of the civil services, ministries and improving the governance by promoting incentives in these ministries so as to get more qualified and truly motivated staff.
Q: What are the future prospects of these reforms in Yemen?
A: While there has been lots of improvement, this is not a reason to become complacent and stop working. That is so because the challenges that this country faces are a lot; high population, lots of unemployment, lots of illiteracy, need to achieve substantial improvement in health care, social services, water supply and sanitation, and so forth. There are lots of urgent needs to be addressed. But the resources are limited. Therefore, we are trying to work with the Yemeni government to be as much helpful as possible.
Q: Have the Yemeni government failed to meet any of the recommendations of the World Bank?
A: Well, it was an ongoing partnership. Of course between the two groups, there are some occasions when they discussed how the Yemeni government performed and whether it conducted itself properly or not. But I would say that our dialogues during the past few years have been very constructive and very cooperative.
Q: How do you assess the outcome of your visit?
A: During the past four days I’ve met with some Yemeni officials as well as ministers here in Sana’a and on the fields that I visited. I also had the opportunity to visit a number of project agencies and project sites including projects in Sana’a, Sayoon and in Mokalah.
I think comparing the present state to what I remember when I first visited Yemen ten years ago, I see a lot more energy and dynamism and a lot more activity happening here. There are also lots of construction activities going on. I think that the changes that have been set in place will certainly contribute to better prospects in the future.