Yemen could not determine its priorities [Archives:2008/1173/Opinion]

July 17 2008

By: Mahyoub Al-Asali
Political activities are given precedence over the economic ones in many developing countries including Yemen. It has to be born in mind that without productive economy, no one of the world countries can survive, and consequently there will be no political activities at all.

History did prove this fact without the minimum suspicion. The economic activity began with the emergence of the Agricultural Revolution more than ten thousand years ago while the political activity started too late and that was after the Agricultural Revolution led to the establishment of villages and cities that necessitated further practice of political activities. We give a piece of advice to the underdeveloped countries that without surplus production, they can not afford paying for the cost of political activities.

Despite all this, there is still a kind of ambiguity in the relation between the economic and political activities, which is symptomatic of overlapping and correlation between both activities. For instance, no one can realize any similarity between the economic freedom and the political freedom, as there are cases where both freedoms exist at a time while in other cases one of them exists and the other doesn't.

Therefore, the relation between democracy and economic growth is not quite clear, notably as the various economic studies don't agree on the same kind and size of relation between democracy and economic growth. Some of these studies indicated that political freedom helps encourage economic growth while other studies said there is a reverse relation between the two. A third group of studies stated that there is no relation between political freedom and economic growth.

Undoubtedly, determining the size and kind of relation between political and economic activities is crucial to specifying the priorities of states and communities, and an underdeveloped country like Yemen has to pay closer attention to its real priorities. Yemen attempts to achieve progress in both political and economic areas by focusing on economic development and initiating the process of building democratic institutions at the same time.

Assessment of the Yemeni experience in this area faces great difficulty, which means that the state should give a top priority to reaching notable economic growth or building democratic institutions, but not to doing both things simultaneously. Unfortunately, Yemen couldn't have specified its priorities, and due to pressing backwardness, the country couldn't prosper.

Regretfully, hard efforts expended by Yemen in the various areas couldn't help it succeed in resolving many economic and political issues, as progress in both economic and political areas at the same time is impossible to continue. The vulnerable country repeatedly fails to achieve economic objectives due to scarce resources while returning to the zero point means that Yemen's ailing economy will continue to worsen.

As a result, Yemen is required to take firm and painful decisions. As far as I am concerned, the country has to reprioritize its issues, as well as give economic issues precedence over the political ones. This is a prerequisite condition Yemen must satisfy in order to succeed in improving its ailing economy and maintain the so far reached political achievements. If the Yemeni state fails to take destructive decisions in this regard, reaching further economic and political achievements in the future will be impossible.

Need to control chaos:

Yemeni government is required to review the political situation countrywide and control the standing turmoil, particularly as the current political institutions, which are weak, impede any official efforts aimed at containing the current political crises.

Additionally, decision-makers in Yemen should review structures of the various government agencies, reduce their number and determine their duties and responsibilities. They should also care about preventing any overlapping between duties and powers of executive offices and local authorities. Another pressing need is that of reducing the number of political parties in the country because their large number seems to affect their performance.

Reforming progress of the Yemeni economy and releasing its energies requires the relevant agencies to expedite designing and discussing a vision that may be interpreted into an economic covenant. And, this vision should determine the intersecting or overlapping points between political and economic activities. In order for the political activities to be controlled in favor of the economic ones, this vision has to be comprehensive, real and timely.

Such an economic vision must be accompanied by implementation mechanisms and stations for assessing any consequent effects. For the government and political forces, the vision should be dealt with as a binding agreement, of which the implementation necessitates adequate popular and foreign support. This support is essential for creating an adequate driving force to place the vision in effect and overcome any challenges or obstacles standing in its way. In case all these requirements are satisfied, the vision will be eyed by the Yemeni people in general and those concerned in particular as credible and effective, thereby facilitating the provision of financial and human capacities required for its successful implementation.