Reflections on The Economic Dimension After Unification [Archives:2001/23/Business & Economy]

June 4 2001

Mahyoob Al-Kamali
Yemen Times
After 11 years of Yemen’s unification, a number of questions may strike the mind of the Yemeni citizen.
These are: When will the Yemeni people enjoy economic wellbeing, particularly after they had unified their available resources and expand the production, exports and marketing? Why do people complain about the current economic situation despite the plannings of the government to implement joint economic policy aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of the economy ?
In fact, the reunification has led to developing the potentials of the modern state of Yemen which has striven to annex new coasts, bring more arable lands under cultivation, harness the new population and increase its oil and mineral wealth. Consequently this will provide the country with the fruits of economic integration and a balanced distribution of the development and services projects.
The state of unification has focused on implementing projects of the fundamental and services infrastructure to combat divisive factors and introducing public services for the benefit of the people of Yemen.
To cite figures, there are some important achievements in different sectors of the society i.e. the State Institution Of Roads and Bridges has built more than 12,000 km roads, and built 17,000 km of stone roads and asphalted 2700 km more at a cost of 100 billion riyals.
Also, the General Authority Of Rural Electricity and Water carried out more than 80 projects which cost about 2 billion riyals, most of them being water projects.
In the field of communications, the state established new communication centers at a cost of 10 billion riyals. In addition, more than 145,000 connected lines throughout Yemen were opened, and for the first time Soqatra island has been provided with phone services.
In the water and sanitation sector, Yemen expended around 80 billion riyals in this sector and carried out 12 projects costing 18 billion riyals. One of those significant enterprises was Grand Aden Water which was completed in 1998.
Financing Agricultural Production and Fishing
Figures indicate that the fund for encouraging the agricultural production has financed more than 343 plans at the cost of 2 billion riyals and has built 107 dams and water systems at the cost of 1 billion riyals, whereas the implemented financial investment for the fishing sector reached 5.7 billion riyals and 7 billion at the end of the last year.
Mail Services
The mail service has witnessed a qualitative leap in which computers and modern systems have been used to connect the main offices all over the country and have implemented the international express mail services.
Eventually, the number of post offices has increased to more than 230 and the mail agencies to 56.
During the years after Yemen’s unification, Aden Harbor has been built at a cost of 187 billion dollars and Nashton Harbor rehabilitated at 30 billion riyals in an effort at boosting the services of the harbors.
Then, where do the economic and developing dysfunction lie?
Despite all these giant achievements in the infrastructure, there is still an economic failing. As far as the Yemeni citizen is concerned, there are remarkably important reasons behind this, including the negligence of the reunified state to offer free services in health and education and the gaps in distributing water, electricity, schools and health centers in the governorates and remote areas.
Yet, the citizens’ living standard has deteriorated despite the unified state’s implementation of a program of economic, financial and administrative reform marked by increase in the official aid of foodstuff and fuels. This step was opposed vehemently by the Yemeni citizens and the opposition as well.
The program caused a rise in the electricity tariffs and phone bills, and prices in general, which has left a negative impact on the living standard of the Yemeni people. This is especially true for those who live in the southern areas and who used to have some free services from the ex-ruling socialist party.
Thus, the non-availability of work opportunities and low living standard of most of the population made them complain and naturally held the the unified state responsible for their poor situation. Keep in mind this is in a country that produces more than 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day. In view of this the government should take serious steps to achieve progress for the Yemeni people.
The unified state implies only a political gain to the Yemeni people, for it unified the land, people and wealth only.