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Wednesday, 08-November-2006
By Adnan Hizam - Abdul-Kareem al-Arhabi, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, is feeling hopeful about the upcoming donors’ meeting with Yemen’s development partners in London. “I believe the current atmosphere is suitable for ensuring the success of the meeting, especially after the positive results of the September presidential and local elections, which have made a good impression among donor-countries,’’ he said.

The aim of the consultative meeting is to get the funds required to carry out projects outlined in Yemen’s third five-year plan for poverty eradication. “My recent tour to some European countries and to America was to discuss participation in the meeting, which aims to acquire support for the development process in Yemen, “ he said. “Yemen has a good chance to succeed in obtaining funds as a result of the meeting; there is good understanding between Yemen and Gulf countries over the plan.”

The preparations for the meeting were carried out in accordance with international standards. “Certain documents will be presented in the meeting, including project implementation mechanisms, aid policy papers, aid absorption capacity papers, and a paper on preparing Yemen for better economic integration into the GCC.” He expressed hope that high-ranking delegations would take part in the meeting. “We have limited resources and unlimited needs. So we have to utilize the available resources perfectly and correctly,” he said.

He said that Yemen has to go ahead with its agenda for reform, which includes combating corruption and enhancing good governance. The development plan targets a growth rate of 7.1 percent. “It is not easy to realize that, because our resources are limited and we look forward to foreign support to carry out the projects of the plan,” he said. Yemen has asked the World Bank to help its efforts to join the Gulf Cooperation Council, a plan it hopes donors will also support.

Yemen needs $48 billion to fulfill its Millennium Development Goals but is facing a financial gap of $17 billion. Yemen is working to create a better investment climate, to attract local and foreign investment. Yemen and the IFC will work together to take measures to make setting up investment easy, he said. “We are working to organize a conference for investment opportunities in cooperation with the GCC to attract further Gulf investors to set up their ventures in Yemen.” Investment is very important now, as the plan focuses on encouraging the private sector to play a role in economic growth and contribute to the development process.

Al-Arhabi appreciated efforts of the committee during its six months of hard work to prepare for the consultative group meeting. The committee concluded its three-day meeting in Sana’a last Monday by approving all documents and measures taken in preparation for the London meeting. President Ali Abdullah Saleh is expected to attend the meeting. Abdul-Aziz al-Awashaq, Director of the Economic and Integration Studies in thgeneral assembly of the Gulf Cooperation Council, highlighted the efforts of the committee in preparing all documents that will be presented in the London meeting.

“The meeting is a step toward better coordination between Yemen and the Gulf countries,” he said. The Gulf countries are ready to offer any kind of help to Yemen. If Yemen wants to continue with the work of the technical committee, the Gulf countries would like to do the same, he said. Mustapha Rouis, WB country manager said, “At the request of Yemen’s government, the World Bank is going to chair the consultative group meeting in London. As a key partner of Yemen, the bank has worked with authorities to prepare for this consultative meeting. The bank has been a very a reliable partner for Yemen in its development efforts. “We are supporting Yemen in different fields by offering technical assistance, advice and offer assistance.

He said that the attendance of the president at the meeting is a good signal of the reform agenda in the country,” said Rouis. Dominic O’ Neill, Country Representative of the British Department for International Development, said that the UK government is excited to be hosting the meeting in London. “We are going to provide a venue in one of royal palaces, Lancaster House,” he said. “We have prepared several documents, such as an aid policy paper and an aid absorption capacity paper, and many things have been done, he said.

The volume of assistance offered by the British government runs at a total of around $20 million a year. The London meeting, he said, is an opportunity for the Yemeni government to tell others about its poverty reduction plan and how to fight poverty in Yemen. “The meeting is very important, as it is first time that Arab funds and donors from Arab countries are working together with other donors from Britain, from the Netherlands and other world countries,” he said. He expressed hope for increased aid for Yemen in this meeting, saying that the Minister of State will represent the British government at the meeting.

The meeting is a great chance for the international community to help less developed countries such as Yemen, said Dr. Taha al-Fusial, an economist. “The Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are considered key donors, who offer assistance for poor countries across the world,” he said. He expected much assistance from the meeting, including gifts and credit. “If Yemen gets enough foreign assistance, the economy of Yemen will be of a quality to fit with the Gulf economies,” he said.

The integration of Yemen into the GCC would will be useful for both sides, not only economically, but also in terms of security and stability. There are fears about the increase of non-Arab workers in the GCC countries, as the number of the non-Arab laborers in some Gulf countries is greater than the number of people in the country, which results in negative impacts on the economic, social and cultural life of these countries, he said.

The International Monetary Fund has carried out a recent study on the importance of Yemen’s integration into the GCC. Also, an upcoming symposium will be held in Dubai to follow up on an earlier meeting held in Sana’a, to discuss the issues associated with Yemen’s accession into the GCC. In association with Yemeni Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center will hold the symposium on November 8th and 9th to establish the mechanisms required for Yemen’s admission to Gulf Cooperation Council. The event is scheduled to take place in Dubai in the presence of senior officials from the GCC and from Yemen, as well as researchers and experts in foreign affairs.

“The main objective of the symposium is to manifest the importance of historic and cultural relations between Yemen and GCC member states and to discuss strategic, security and political issues and developments associated with Yemen’s GCC entry,” said the head of the Gulf Research Centre, Abdul-Aziz bin Othman bin Saqr. The symposium will concentrate on analyzing the requirements Yemen needs to fulfill to qualify for membership, the size of its funding needs, and the nature of joint economic, political and strategic achievements.

Additionally, the symposium will discuss a vision for the course of Yemen’s partnership with GCC member states. The London meeting is bringing together donors from the United States, Japan, and members of the European Union particularly, Britain, France, Germany, and Holland. The World Bank and the Yemeni government will co-chair the meetings, which will be sponsored by the GCC countries.
Source: Yemen Observer
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