The next Friends of Yemen group meeting will discuss a common vision to support the economic, political and security development plans for Yemen including a road map for reforms to be carried out during the next five years.
The meeting of donor nations was originally scheduled for Tuesday (March 22nd) and Wednesday, but Yemeni officials sought a postponement to make additional preparations.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told Al-Shorfa he discussed postponing the meeting with ambassadors from the European Union, the United States, Russia, China, and a United Nations representative on March 16th "to provide an opportunity for greater coordination and preparation."
The new date will be determined at a later time, but will be scheduled soon, he said.
Al-Qirbi re-emphasized that the next meeting will be dedicated to supporting Yemen's development plans.
"The solution to economic issues, particularly unemployment, poverty and the implementation of strategic projects will contribute to alleviating tension in the political arena," he said.
Abdullah al-Shater, undersecretary for the ministry of planning and international cooperation, told Al-Shorfa that Yemen would present donors with a five-year plan, approved by the cabinet for development and poverty reduction. Officials will also present an investment programme and a national agenda of reforms that addresses the judiciary, the rule of law, and investment promotion.
Al-Shater emphasized "the importance of preparing the national strategy for reforms, which was approved by the cabinet recently to serve as a comprehensive practical framework for the economic, political, social, administrative and institutional aspects. The strategy is consistent with a common vision that is conducive to reinforcing institutional structures and increasing the effectiveness of the state's administrative apparatus."
Al-Shater said the draft aims to create an equitable and independent judicial system, strengthen the ability of state institutions and address shortcomings in the civil service programme.
The programme also aims to increase opportunities for wider political participation, foster a culture of dialogue among different groups, strengthen the economy, alleviate poverty, and upgrade education.
Al-Shater said the next Friends of Yemen meeting will adhere to the recommendations announced during the group's meeting in New York last September. At the time participants discussed projects that are being implemented and funded by the Gulf-Cooperation Council and regional banks and mechanisms that can accelerate implementation of those projects, particularly the establishment of a Yemen Fund to finance strategic development projects.
Hassan Thabit, a professor of economics at Sanaa University, told Al-Shorfa, "The next meeting will not produce anything new as long as Yemen is unable to earmark any of the project funding that was allotted during the 2006 donor conference in London where nearly $5 billion was allocated to Yemen, but none of it has been used by the government on its programmes to date."
Thabit said, "The establishment of a Yemen Fund would be beneficial if Yemen is able to provide feasibility studies for the projects that are being funded by donors." Feasibility studies are necessary to persuade donors about the extent of Yemen’s need for various projects and their potential impact on the economy, he said.
Mustafa Nasr, chairman of the Economic Information Centre said, "The next donor conference will attempt to reform the existing system in light of pervasive corruption."
Nasr said the government could not utilize previous funding from donors, which "were expended in areas where they were not (originally) allocated." He also criticised the inefficiency of the planning administration, which he said did not provide clear and convincing studies about development projects to financiers.
"The recent practice adopted by financiers calling for direct supervision of implementation of the projects they have funded without government involvement is an attempt to ensure success for their projects and avoid corruption," Nasr said.
At the close of their meeting in Abu Dhabi on March 8th, GCC foreign ministers urged states participating in the next Friends of Yemen meeting to lend Yemen the support it needs during the fourth development plan period.