Public spending [Archives:2007/1073/Opinion]

August 2 2007

By: Nabil Al-Sofi
Children of the Democracy school have staged a demonstration at the cabinet's premises protesting the low allocations approved for them in the government's general budget items. The children don't compare their allocations to the budgets approved for tribal sheikhs, the armed forces, or the senior government officials.

All the concerned reports agree that Yemen experienced a great gap between capacities of senior officials, be they civil or military, to control spending. Some of these reports estimated that nearly 50 percent of the ministries' budgets go to the pocket of ministers for personal expenses, however, ministers receive high allocations for beverages, stationary, office supplies, communications, and similar things. In some of the government facilities, we find that some people prefer to stay idle in the offices of top ministry officials or their deputies to doing other useful things.

Sincere greetings and compliments to the Democracy School, as the protest staged by children draws attention toward financial planning in the country. Waiting the expected results of the first government committee in the Yemeni history, which was formed by Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Mujawar last month to manage the state's general budget for the fiscal year 2008, the demands listed by children need to be generalized in order to criticize the financial planning in Yemen.

Money wasted as a result of financial corruption exceeds the scores contained in the report prepared by the former Deputy Finance Minister for Revenues Sector Abduljabbar Sa'ad, who resigned his post. According to the report, the Yemeni government is not interested in revenues as much as its officials are interested in pocketing the public money. Regretfully, the result is similar to the ones reached by reports, which some donor countries released on the rampant corruption exercised in Yemeni government offices.

Other identical results were reached by the most recent Shoura Council's report on loans. The report itself is pondered upon as a condemnation of government officials concerned with loans. It reveals that Yemen has become a donor country as the government pays annual interests for the loans it received but hasn't used them (loans) yet. Remorsefully, neither the Republic Presidency, Cabinet, National Security, nor official media pay attention to these issues, but all these institutions are engaged in harassing any activities of the opposition parties.

Other terrible scores are associated with the way the government controls public spending. For instance, the government moves toward reforming the local authority, and the matter necessitates much more spending to train and qualify this authority for work. But, what happens has nothing to do with local authority qualification.

The government talks about the democratic development in the country, compared to democracies of the neighboring countries, as well as party pluralism and the freedom of expression, but it never refers to the common phenomenon of preferring the personal interests to the public ones. How much does Yemen spend on improving capacities and performance of media institutions?

I do not speak about professional performance. Rather I concentrate on freedom of the independent media, which always suffer repeated assaults and harassments by the government's agents. In addition, the government has the kind of plans that aim to eliminate party and opposition media as well as any civil community organizations. This is the way the government exercises democracy.

How much budget is allocated for constitutional and legal awareness? How much budget is allocated for studying and analyzing problems and for the government restoration? At this point, I don't want to generalize the most recent experience of the Ministry of Civil Service and Social Security, which we don't know why it created a job opportunity under the cover of training leaderships for a Lebanese company, which hasn't yet been registered in Yemen's logbooks as a firm licensed to work in the country. Instead, my talk focuses on the wasted budgets.

As journalists, we should bear in mind that if our government had rational planning, it would have been able to help us escape such difficult situations we are suffering. These situations restricted our freedom of expression and put our lives at risk, however, we do our best for the sake of the country's development and prosperity. Our situations and living standards need to be studied and analyzed in order to help us suggest possible solutions to any persisting issues.

Source: Al-Seyassia Weekly