The Political Alliance in Yemen,  with or Versus the Economic Reform [Archives:1999/39/Focus]

September 27 1999

Mohammad Al-Qaheri,
1) The political factor is of a decisive role in making the development as well as the economic reforms a success in the modern political economy for development. In fact the development as well as the conducted reforms is a long course process which needs a thorough plan and strategic observation. It also strongly needs strict valid rules, strong public commitment and the participation of the local as well as foreign economists. The political factor depends on securing these requirements and making them available. All this should be done by the ruling political coalition, that is, the government with its political allies along with the administrative constitutions and the army.
Along with all these economic reforms, something called coalition for the sake of equalization emerged in the economic literature for the structural equalization. This coalition may contain, along with the government, some of the social as well as economic groups according to the benefits they get from these reforms. These groups are usually represented by the businessmen’s organizations, laborers, farmer, laborers’ syndicates and services renders: teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, scientists, artists, etc. However, in the case of Yemen and because of the primitivism of the economic life, we find that most of these syndicates are either not influential or do not exist at all. Moreover, it is not independent from the government’s observation. The Trade and Commercial Chamber that represents businessmen has no effect on the government’s instructions and decisions or is observed and totally controlled by the government. Therefore, the political coalition is the only effecting factor in the country and I will focus my discussion on its role.
2) Most often, these organizations are looked at as “Redistributive Groups” or “Pressure Groups for Particular Interests”. The centers that find these reforms harmful to their interests may seek their destruction and make them prove failure, causing an embarrassing situation and a threat for the government. However, the absence of these groups dose not mean that the government of Yemen is beyond the pressure groups, for in most poor countries these groups take other shapes and is still there in the political coalition, that is, in the government and is related to power centers. We can call them “Statist Pressure Groups” which consist of politicians, armymen, sheikhs, businessmen and journalists, most of them are hypocrites. We can bestow all the failure in reforms on these groups. Hence, the importance of the political coalition to make clear whether it is with or against reforms with the idea that coalition can never be a tool for carrying out the reforms and a shelter for people who exercise pressure at the same time.
3) This role is specified by the Political Feasibility” for the economic reform which can be divided to three sets of conditions:
(a) Political conditions: these conditions are represented in taking the political decision to accept having reforms. This decision is to be taken by the first political leader in the country who is at the top place. As he is a politician and is not a specialist in economic as well as financial situations, he takes the decision on the basis of consulting the specialized economic and technocratic team in the country.
(b) Technical, lawful and institutional conditions: these conditions mean that there should be a specialized economic and technocratic team to take the role of making the economic reforms. This team should never indulge in politics and should perform its duties under the supervision of the Minister of Economics and Finance, consulting and coordinating with different Ministries and concerned institutions. Active local as well as foreign economists and sociologists should participate positively in all these reforms. Another condition is that there should be qualified administration as well as convenient laws as to be effectively implemented.
(c) Economic conditions: this set of conditions requires an existence of a large base with quite a good number of people who will benefit from these reforms so that they can provide a good political support and stability for the political coalition. In the case of Yemen , the number of people who may benefit from these political as well as economic reforms are a lot, including:
(1) importers, exporters, investors, other groups who may benefit from the freedom of trade, reforms in customs administration, privatization, reforms of taxation policy on profits as well as trade courts and reforms of the institutional and lawful framework.
(2) farmers who may benefit from lifting prices of flour and corps which have actually made farmers depend upon themselves to grow.
(3) The administration members whose income, abilities and chances of participating in the decision making will improve. The employees of the organizations participating in the Reform Program enjoy a lot of interests, some of which are increasing their income and improving their work experience. The Reform program is supposed to stop corruption and the monotonous routine, at least lessen it. If this happens, such services will not be costly. At the same time, this will satisfy people disapproving corruption.
(4) The opposite politicians who have been provided by pieces of information as well as an evaluation of the economic situation in the country. This category benefits from the political suggestions presented in the Reform Program.
On the other hand, there are the losers who can form a party opposing the reforms. This party can be divided into two categories: The Weak Category and the Strong Category. The first category includes the poor people who have been affected by the inflation, and the employees dismissed or fired due to decreasing the number of the administrative employees or privatization. Though this category of people is considered to be weak, it can be a real threat to reforms. However, if their awareness of the importance, necessity of reforms and their later on fruits is raised, their support is guaranteed. The program includes different articles that should be implemented to combat poverty. The pressure other groups should also be prevented from transferring the burdens of these reforms over the shoulders of the weak groups. Otherwise, this will constitute the real threat to these reforms either by a political means such as strikes, demonstrations, revolutions, etc, or by economic means. For if they do not get the compensation means, this will mean that there is not an improvement in the income distribution and their incomes will remain low. This will lead to a non-existence of any impetus to increase the show of products and opportunities of work later on.