Skyrocketing prices or tradesmen’s greediness [Archives:2007/1056/Opinion]

June 4 2007

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh
For the first time in our country, the opposition, those who are loyal with the regime and the government unanimously agree to suggest possible solutions to price hikes. Such an agreement or consensus is a good sign leading one to know about numerous joint sites operating in favor of the nation and citizens as well, and highlighting the necessity of objective difference aimed at spotting the points of error.

No wonder that prices have suddenly skyrocketed over the past few weeks following a cabinet's meeting to examine the factors behind price hikes. In addition, Prime Minister met with big tradesmen, who are expected to lose due to the fever proliferating the local markets with the dollar being stable, coupled with stable prices of foodstuffs worldwide. The prices of wheat, sugar, oil, and other foodstuffs in different parts of the world are remaining stable, and some prices of foodstuffs declined.

A friend of mine, who has just returned from Dubai told me that prices of some foodstuffs in Yemen are higher than prices of the same commodities and products in Dubai city. He said he was shocked at the prices of yoghurt, oil, and milk, taking into consideration the big difference of quality between products sold in the local markets and the products of other world countries.

In Yemen, there is neither monitor nor control of foodstuffs' prices. Some people attribute the phenomenon to the cabinet reshuffle while others noted that the subsequent cabinet formations retained a neutral stance between tradesmen and consumers.

In fact, these cabinets don't try to interfere in the affairs of tradesmen and consumers, particularly after the announcement of the democratic move and misunderstanding that made out of democracy a fastener for officials to hang their disability, as they are unable to protect their nation and citizens or stand in the face of dissidents who target the national security and stability.

In our country, there is a small social group that enjoys exceptional economic situations, and this class is blamed for the daily sufferings, pressures, and agonies endured by the majority of people, particularly the junior government employees.

It doesn't go to the advantage of such a small group as citizens' sufferings increase and people feel the wide gap between their present situation and the situation ten years ago when the state was concerned with providing the necessities of people and breaking the barrier of monopoly.

Additionally, it is not in favor of the statesmen to face the increasing public rage on behalf of exploiters and those who fuel crises in the local markets. Most of the statesmen came from poor families that are unable to meet the basic necessities of the everyday life, and those occupying prestigious posts are suffering price hikes like other ordinary citizens.

In order for tradesmen to be convinced that socialism vanished and is impossible to return while the silent earth turned to speak only capitalism, they have to exercise business in conformity with the law of capitalism with all its economic and cultural dimensions.

Tradesmen have to bear in mind that the United States of America, the world's biggest capitalist country, is exercising continued efforts to create a state of balance between rich and poor citizens through introducing a social insurance system and stabilizing prices. This country maintains foodstuffs' prices stable in order to avoid any rioting and protect the social peace from collapse.

Where we are and how our country can benefit from what takes place in the capitalist world. How can Yemen succeed in creating a state of relative balance, as no state or citizen worldwide can accept to pay three times the global price for 50 kg of wheat?

In Yemen, there are two kinds of tradesmen, the first of whom is that of the stable condition whose wealth dates tens of years back and they don't care about making much money illegally. The other kind of tradesmen is that of those who joined the local market very recently and have a strong desire to reach the rank of millionaires within the minimum scope of time. The latter is responsible for the current crisis and the daily sufferings of people because of skyrocketing prices.

What raises concern in this regard is that the government's talk about price hikes and its meetings with tradesmen led to increasing prices of basic foodstuffs in unbelievable way. We don't know whether this is a temporary reaction to the government's talk or a behavior taunting the government and its policies.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh is Yemen's prominent poet and intellectual. He is the director of the Yemeni Center for Studies

Source: Al-Thawra State-run Daily.