Protecting Investments is Through Enforcing Law [Archives:1999/48/Viewpoint]

November 29 1999

The 4th businessmen conference that started today in Aden should be a starting point for our government and leaders to thoroughly begin thinking of ways to secure investments, and attract investors to Yemen. As Yemen Times, we heard a lot of complaints, and worries from businessmen about many obstacles investors face when beginning their projects. Among these obstacles is the judicial procedures that are not fully realized and implemented on the ground. I remember once I was talking with an expatriate investor who came to Yemen with the determination to invest in his homeland. However, it was not long before he realized that his efforts were into no avail. Whenever he announced a project or so, a number of tribesman and sheiks come to his office demanding from him to have them as his partners in his project and hence, get a percentage of his profit. When he asked them, “what do I get in return?” they reply, “You get our protection. We will protect your project from any attacks.” All this investor wanted is that his investment be protected, not by these tribesmen or sheiks, but from them. And by whom they want to be protected? By the law!
They would feel more secure if they realized that the judicial system is working honestly and in an efficient method. This would directly make them feel that their projects are secure and that their interests, money, and other properties are in safe hands and on a safe land.
The measures taken by the government and president in regards to the judicial reforms, and the promotion of business and investment are correct and should continue and intensify. However, there also should be a committee that monitors the status of the investment projects, and should receive any complaints from investors and try to speed up in getting solutions for them. Solving these problems would generate a sense of credibility in the state that it is indeed doing something for the business sector and facilitating its work. However, that is only part of the solution. The complete solution must also involve efforts to prevent such problems from occurring in the future.
We all know that law is above all, and that all the ones who are illegally disrupting investors are simply against the law. As one of the investors said one day, “all we want from the government is to enforce law and order. All we want is to have our rights and investments protected by law. We are abiding by the law, and expect the rest to do the same. Otherwise, we cannot be sure that our investments are going to be safe.”Hence, I once again stress that if our government is willing to achieve good results in attracting more investments and preventing current investments from collapsing, it should do one thing: It should enforce law in the country. I hope it takes the issue seriously.
Walid Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf 
 Chief Editor