Yemen tested by Donors Conference
Yemen will be represented in the conference by a delegation headed by Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindawa and other ministers.
In 2007, during the rule of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen received financial support from various donor countries, but several donors showed dissatisfaction with the then-government, headed by Mojawar, because it didn’t spend the money provided to the country on the previously agreed upon projects, according to Doctor Saeed Abdelmo’men, a researcher in economic and strategic affairs.
This time, the Donors Conference is being held as Yemen moves forward with a new president and a new government, on whom the donors count to take advantage of the provided financial support to establish vital projects that benefit Yemen’s economy.
The question now is: What does Yemen want from the donors, and what will the donors provide for Yemen?
Ameen Sharaf, a journalist and an economic analyst, said Yemen needs a large amount of financial support to carry out vital and important projects and to cover the deficit in this year’s budget, estimated at approximately 561 billion riyals.
“Yemen wants the donor countries to pay compensation, which will be given to those affected during last year’s uprising or to those included in the Transitional Justice Law, which stipulated that compensation must be given to victims of incidents from 1990 until 2012, which is the time of immunity given for ousted president Saleh.”
For his part, Doctor Mohammed Jobran, an economics professor at Sana’a University, said Yemen didn’t go to Saudi Arabia to receive help from the donors. He said these countries have to pay what Yemen has spent in its “war on terror.”
Jobran said Yemen sustained heavy losses due to efforts to eliminate Al-Qaeda from the country, efforts which caused the obstruction of economic development and investments in Yemen, halted gas and oil exports and resulted in Al-Qaeda’s control over several areas in Yemen.
He said that, since 2002, Yemen has spent $5 billion to combat extremism.
Mohammed Al-Sadi, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, said the country needs an additional $11 billion for adequate reconstruction and development post-last year’s uprising.
In a press conference held Wednesday, Al-Sadi said reconstruction; security and stability; completion of the National Dialogue progress; writing constitutional amendments; preparing for elections; and other issues concerning basic needs such as water, electricity and health will be discussed during the conference.
It’s now a question of what the donors will give and whether or not the donations resulting from the conference will meet the wishes of the reconciliation government.
Abdelmo’men said donors don’t provide random donations, but instead, they provide money according to arranged plans for specific projects serving the best interests of Yemen’s economy.
He said donors have experience with the former Yemeni government after 2007, when the government was unable to make improvements using donated money.
The current reconciliation government has two choices, Abdelmo’men said, either to direct financial support toward improving Yemen’s economy or to fail like those before them. The donors aren’t willing to waste more money in a country such as Yemen, which is filled with corruption, he said.
Sharaf said Yemen largely depends on financial support given by the Gulf countries because they fear Yemen will turn to Iran for support, particularly as Iran has offered to adopt several projects in Yemen.
Sharaf expects Gulf countries to provide more support to Yemen so that it remains loyal to them instead of Iran.
He also said that the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, pledged to give $4 billion to Yemen after the Friends of Yemen Conference in May.
In return, Jobran said the Yemeni government needs cleverness in negotiating with the donors in order to secure more money and to compensate for what has been spent fighting extremism during the past decade.
“The Yemeni government has to give two options for the donors: either to support Yemen to continue the war on terror or to quit,” Jobran said.
It is important that the government rethink its financial policy instead of depending on foreign countries, he said.
Now, Yemen’s president and government are really on probation. They must prove their ability to benefit from the financial support that will come after the Donors Conference to save Yemen’s economy from its deteriorating situation and not adopt the policies and failures of the past.