Next few months will be A make-or-break time [Archives:2004/707/Local News]

January 29 2004

By Mohammed Yahya al-Sabri
For The Yemen Times

The coming few months might witness instability in Yemen, thanks to the final stages of the economic policy, under the slogan of “reform,” that the government is implementing alongside the World Bank.
This view is based on developments between Yemeni officials and the group from the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, experts trying the improve Yemen's bad economy.
Nine years have elapsed since the relationship began, years that are deemed of the worst years of living the Yemeni people have experienced. Goals of reform are not necessarily the same that are realized on the ground.
In those nine years, basic commodities have risen by 500% in a country categorized before the announcement of the World Bank reforms as among the group of the poorest and in need of unconditional assistance from the international community.
Private and public work has dropped drastically, and that caused the rise in the proportion of the poor by more than half of the population. About 3 million people have sunk below the line of poverty and around 9 million people during the period 1993 to 2002.
Under economic circumstances, like these created by the successive “governments of the World Bank” since 1995, the rate of security instability in Sana'a increased in an unprecedented form. And in such a country with strategic situation for international and regional interests.
Among indicators of to this situation is what has been reported in recent security reports, and what a Saudi interior minister has complained about recently, the smuggling of huge quantities of weapons to Saudi from Yemen.
Officials in Sana'a and their partners at the World Bank have accelerated processes of change regarding the social, political and security level in a way that some say has placed Yemen in new, serious dangers.
The discussions in the past two weeks reveal action that is heading towards raising prices of fuel and imposing a new tax on sales by 10 per cent, under justifications marketed by the government about a wave of high prices throughout the world.
The problem is that the new price disaster is focused more on the citizens' basic necessities and contributes to impoverish the capability of providing food, clothing and residence for millions of Yemenis.
The two operations would be accompanied with weakness of administrative and technical control on the economy.
It appears that both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the Middle East in particular are indifferent of the socially damaging impact. Both of them do not reveal the results after nine years of the policies of raising prices and liberalization of services.
The majority of Yemenis interested in the internal affairs do not wish that the result this year is to create a radical change by destroying the economic and political situation. Some believe that the damage and losses would not hit the Yemenis only but would go beyond that to include the Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
This result might not be without an intentional policy pursued by the World Bank aimed at generalizing firstly chaos and then reforming the situations, similar to the American way implemented in Iraq, which is denounced by the world public opinion.
The difference between the two policies is that in Iraq it is being destroyed form outside by military means while in the situation of Yemen it is being changed through blasting it from within by economic means.
What is clear and more important is that officials of the American administration and the World Bank have a different definition of who is the man who deserves to have his needs and basic rights be preserved under any operation of change and reform.