S. DAVIS Drives Yemen Through Bottleneck [Archives:2001/34/Reportage]

August 20 2001

Day after day, economic sanctions imposed to the Yemeni government are worsening due to its neglect to pay back a debt contracted for a wheat shipment received by the General Corporation for Foreign Trade and Grains in 1996.
The government claims that the Corporation is a private company and, therefore, it cannot intervene. This does not, however, reflect reality.
Additional worries occurred lately as the period of courteous solution determined by lawyers of both sides was reached on August 13. It is obvious that the government’s position in this case is very weak.
The lawyer of the S.DAVIS corporation, the former American Foreign Minister James Paker, believes so because a delay in the settlement by the Yemeni side does not all serve the country’s national interests as the penalties due to this delay would be applied at a very severe rate.
Meanwhile, the authorized agent of the FAO in Yemen, Mohammad Ahmed Saeed, indicated to Yemen Times that he had been trying to settle the case courteously but his efforts did not lead to any result. According to Program 416 (B), American aid has been suspended for nearly a year, whereas the Yemeni government needs it badly.
Some sources confirmed that the prime minister Dr. Abdul-kader Ba. Jammal handed the last letter sent by the corporation to the ministers of finance and supply who denied any knowledge of case. This issue has thus been left unsolved.
Before this letter, S.DAVIS corporation sent messages to the former prime minister Dr. Abdul-Kareem Al-Iryani requesting him to bring some senior officials, including the former minister of supply and trade, the current finance minister, the secretary general of the presidential office as well as the former and current prime minister, to plead their oath on the case.
Some economical observers described the government position in this regard as is if facing a bottleneck which might be very costly.
The president’s message made on this concern was clear and instructed the government to settle the S.DAVIS case as soon as possible in a way that should avoid any additional costs. The statement made by the former prime minister Dr. Abdul-Kareem Al-Iryani was also clear as it was directed to the current cabinet, headed by Ba-Jammal, and requested a rapid resolution of the case to prevent the latter from having a potential impact on the national economy.
By following closely the case, Yemen Times has been intending to save the national economy usually hit by irrational decisions by making high officials aware of the problem.
The S.DAVIS corporation case has been on the table ever since 1996 and all the parties involved in the case are well aware of the efforts exerted by the FAO, the sole corporation trustee in Yemen, to settle the case in a courteous way .
Evidently, the case has had a negative impact on national interests as well understood by all parties. So, delaying the settlement would make things worse and the only loser would be the Yemeni government itself:
First, the Yemeni government would be responsible for pay huge sums consequence of the judicial verdicts in addition to the initial losses and penalties.
Second, the government would have to pay legal fees and daily interests due to late payment .
Third, it would be deprived of the American Food Aid according to the 416 B program.
The FAO, therefore, advises the government to accelerate the process for settling the case in a rapid and efficient way that avoids more costs. The organization would get a commission from the corporation for the case resolution, but Yemen’s national interest is more essential as the government might also get more out of executing the verdicts.
An official Source at the Finance Ministry preferred not to mention his name prevailed to Yemen Times that the case of the S.DAVIS American Corporation is the responsibility of the General Authority for Foreign Trade and Grains and the ministry of Trade and Supply as the authorities that signed the contract of purchase.
The source added that the file case have been referred to the consultant lawyer of the Central Bank of Yemen who confirmed that the cost price of the wheat shipment was exaggerated.
The Source concluded that the rumors published by newspapers which claim that the Finance ministry should shoulder the responsibility of the shipment are baseless.
On his part General Manager of the grains authority stated to Yemen Times that the American Courts of Alabama are still looking into the case. While the parties are still submitting the required documents through their lawyers. No verdict was issued up to the moment.