Yemeni government co-operates with private sector to stabilise prices

Shoppers in Yemen have been stocking up on food and other goods because of fears associated with the ongoing political conflict. [Faisal Darem/Al-Shorfa]

Shoppers in Yemen have been stocking up on food and other goods because of fears associated with the ongoing political conflict. [Faisal Darem/Al-Shorfa]

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Signs of anxiety were clear on Mohammed Abdullah's face when he talked about price increases for consumer goods in Yemen.

Abdullah, 27, who works as a construction supervisor for a real estate company, said he has an "intense fear that this crisis might continue", in light of a slowdown in food imports which was accompanied by a work stoppage in his company.

"This is disastrous for me," he said.

Yemenis are nervous because of the political crisis facing the country, which pushed them to buy large quantities of consumer goods and store them away. As a result, demand increased and some traders sought to exploit the situation by raising their prices.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade announced mid-April that the availability of goods in Yemen is stable, and that its offices in Sanaa and elsewhere are monitoring the markets in co-ordination with local authorities, chambers of commerce and the private sector.

At the beginning of April, the ministry agreed with the private sector to make consumer goods readily available, prevent monopoly control, and ensure a stable supply during the current situation.

Yemen imports most of its basic goods and food supplies, relying upon imports for more than 85% of its supply.

Hasan al-Kabous, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sanaa, said fear spread among people from the first days of the political crisis. The political instability triggered a wave of shopping and increased demand to secure food.

He added, "The crisis has entered its third month, and the commercial sector is suffering from stagnation because of a slowdown in demand. When the crisis began, people bought more than they needed."

Al-Kabous said traders continue to carry a large stock of consumer goods, adding that traders are importing more than they need. He justified the increase in prices, which he considered to be slight, by noting the increase in the dollar's value.

Two weeks ago, Hisham Sharaf, the minister of trade and industry for the caretaker government, toured several markets in Sanaa and said the reserve stock of food available with merchants is sufficient for six months. The quantities of imports continue to arrive, and they will cover the needs for another six months.

Hasan Farhan, a professor of economics at Sanaa University, said the supply situation is 80% stable. He warned that the outcome could change if the crisis continues for a longer period.

"The situation will be disastrous if imports stop and commercial banks refuse to open letters of credit that will cover imports because of the scarcity of the dollar supply and its high price in addition to the Yemeni Central Bank’s position not to pump more foreign currency in the market," he said.

Prices for goods such as sugar, wheat and rice have increased at varying rates. Fadel Mansour, chairman of the Consumer Protection Association, said overall prices increased by 20%.

Mansour told Al-Shorfa, "The situation puts the consumer at risk as long as the crisis continues and the economic wheel stops which is visible given the halt in construction and investment projects and the termination of many employees who were working in the private sector."

He said the current situation will "lead to a decline in purchasing power and an increase in the poverty rate, especially food poverty".

Mansour said the ministry should tighten control of the markets in light of the monopolies and the manipulation of prices by traders. He said, "Things will get much worse if the crisis continues."

Ahmed al-Numeiri, a wholesale trader in Sanaa, said, "We are importers. We are affected by regional and international price changes for goods. We are not producers who can raise and lower prices which are subject to the exchange rate of the Yemeni riyal against the U.S. dollar."

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    صادق سعيد

    2011-7-20

    Prices have risen considerably, reaching unbelievable rates because of the current crisis and problems the country is experiencing. In fact, such problems are caused by the unstable situation, which made people’s life very difficult. The terrible price increase has added to the suffering of Yemenis, since vegetables have become very expensive and many families can no longer afford to purchase the things that they used to buy formerly.

  • Raly

    2011-7-14

    The Yemenis are living in a very difficult situation. In fact, the situation in the country has led to price increases and the Yemenis are actually suffering from poor services and the scarcity of resources. Indeed, I want all the Arab people to stand by the Yemenis and support them, to get rid of the deteriorating situation in their country. I wish them all the best.

  • راشد الهاشمي

    2011-7-10

    The Yemeni people have been exposed to daily suffering due the events taking place in the country, which have led to the significant increase of prices; many of the prices have doubled. This has affected the Yemeni families, who have become unable to buy their basic needs.

  • ياسر فاروق

    2011-7-8

    Yemen has been suffering from security instability for several months because many Yemeni provinces have undergone large and continuous popular demonstrations calling for the fall of the Yemeni government, led by President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemenis think that he is mainly responsible for the poverty, destitution and the spread of hunger, need and fear in the country, because of the corruption which has been spread throughout all government institutions and the interest of officials in making illegitimate financial profits at the expense of people who are poor, needy and who lack the government’s concern. In fact, this has led to the spread of unemployment in the country, in addition to different scourges among people, namely ignorance and underdevelopment. Consequently, terrorist organizations attracted the youth and granted them priority by providing them with weapons and money in order to fulfill their objectives of carrying out terrorist acts against the innocent. Besides, it is noticeable that public objection toward the ruling regime has increased lately, since millions of Yemenis have demanded political change like some Arab countries; they have asked for the fall of the corrupt government, the peaceful transfer of power, and then holding free elections to give birth to a national government that will take full responsibility for saving the country from the deteriorating conditions. In fact, such conditions are caused by deviation and government oppression, as well as administrative and financial corruption, which were practiced by the current government over the last two years. Yet, this popular uprising was met by a violent reaction from the oppressive government services. In fact, the latter have claimed the lives of many protesters in the country, imprisoned many of them and put them in detention centers. In addition, the government declined international appeals that call on the government to fulfill the demands of people and pave the way for someone elected by these people. Yet, the Yemeni president did not respond to any such appeals, particularly the Gulf one. Indeed, the crisis of the country increased the people’s suffering and worsened the situation, since the trade sector was completely paralyzed and led to a price increase because of the shortage of imported goods.

  • طاهر كريم

    2011-7-8

    The Yemeni people are really suffering because of what they have been through in the recent period, in terms of sharp, unprecedented increase in prices. This was due to the instability of the country’s internal situation and it has added to the Yemenis’ suffering as it has lead to the deterioration of many families’ living conditions.

  • مصعب عيدان

    2011-7-7

    The instability of Yemen has led to an increase in prices. This has caused the Yemenis’ suffering because they have faced difficult and painful conditions due to poverty, hunger, unemployment, ignorance and corruption. Thus, people have taken to the streets in order to demand their rights because of these difficult conditions. In fact, the events taking place in Yemen have had many negative effects, like the significant price increase of food products, in addition to many other basic requirements. Thus, those who have specialized in this field must take an interest in this situation and they must improve the living conditions as quickly as possible. They must also eradicate this phenomenon of high prices that has affected the Yemeni people who have become unable to provide for their daily requirements due the poor condition of the country. In fact, they have suffered from the government’s injustice and repression. Thus, this government does not pay attention to the people’s sufferings. That is why people have taken to the streets in order to demand that their violated rights be restored, and especially to say that the government hasn’t provided their requirement of services and means of comfort. Besides, it has not achieved people’s desires and demands. In fact, this government has treated people with cruelty and abuse in order to silence their voices, and by force. And it has forced the people to accept this bitter reality. In fact, people have the right to choose the ruler who will provide all of the necessary services. Thus, the end of these dictatorial and oppressive regimes will come very soon, God willing.

  • صابر الحقاني

    2011-7-6

    The rise of prices in Yemen, as a result of the instability of the situation, will lead the country towards poor conditions and more subversive operations. This is affecting the citizens in terms of the high prices of all the materials they consume. Therefore, attention should be paid to this issue, and necessary actions should be taken to stop this phenomenon.

  • فارس صديق

    2011-7-6

    The demonstrations that are taking place in Yemen have resulted in many negative effects and cast a shadow over the poor citizens, especially the poor Yemenis who are suffering from irrationally high prices of materials and goods. Prices have risen significantly; all materials are very expensive, and the current situation does not provide work or stability. How can the people in Yemen provide a living for their families and provide the requirements in light of the rise in prices, due to the economic halt in Yemen? Life has become very harsh and difficult. I warn the two parties, the demonstrators and the government, that the continuation of the situation this way will undermine safety and stability in Yemen, and a lot of young people may drift into practicing suspicious actions, such as robbery and kidnapping, and this is what we are afraid of. There should be a solution to this crisis faced by the country, and the government should not pay attention to the demonstrations only and leave the poor citizens suffering this way. Stability must be restored to the country, and there must be controls over prices and compensation for citizens, especially those who were affected as a result of the situation that took place in the country. This is what we expect to be implemented in the coming period before the prices go up more and worsen everything. At that time we would regret our failure to find any solution to control the situation. Citizens can no longer buy even food, sugar, tea and rice, and the prices are increasing due to the greed of merchants and the lack of support by the government.

  • صادق حسين

    2011-7-6

    The Yemeni society is passing through bad conditions, as the lack of security and stability in the country which started a few months ago had an impact on the living conditions of the people, and led to a shortage of most foods and necessary supplies in the market. This has led to dramatically high prices which increased the suffering of the people.

  • وعيد قاسم

    2011-5-29

    The instability of Yemen is due to the unrest that has been taking place in the country for many months. This has led to the economic deterioration of the country, due to the demonstrations that have called for change and reform. This is in order to fight the spread of corruption. In fact, Yemen has witnessed a significant increase in the prices of food products that are necessary for people.

  • اسماعيل ابراهيم

    2011-5-25

    The Yemeni people are living in very bad and difficult conditions, because they are going through an unstable situation, because of the current demonstrations all over Yemen, calling for political change. Undoubtedly, such demonstrations have contributed a lot to the instability at the local level and have affected all aspects of life. Thus, because of the current situation and the storm of change in Yemen, the people are living in a state of confusion, poverty and suffering. In fact, the internal political disorder which Yemen is experiencing nowadays has affected many life issues, including the price increase of all goods and food products because of the tension that has affected everything in Yemen. Indeed, Yemenis are suffering from a sharp price increase, especially since many of them have stopped work and earn a living, because of the instability, the disappearance of many goods from local markets and the consumption of many food products. Also, the supplying of markets and shops with a lot of goods and necessary food products that citizens need for their daily life has been halted. Therefore, Yemenis are suffering a lot in this respect, particularly after the continuation of protests and the lack of stability in this country, which was affected by the winds of change, and I personally do not know whether they will come to an end soon. As far as I am concerned, the suffering of the Yemenis will continue and they will continue to suffer from price increases, since I do not think that the Yemeni government will be able to put an end to this issue because of the trouble and exclusion of any glimmer of hope that stability will be maintained once again in Yemen, mainly after the tension between the Yemenis and the Yemeni government. In addition, the ordinary Yemeni citizen is suffering from this phenomenon, which has affected his daily life in a negative way. In fact, the majority of Yemeni families are living on a limited income, and they cannot do anything but manage their life on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, the price increase has become the main concern of such families, whose current life seems to be more difficult than before the events that led to tension and to the collapse of stability in all Yemeni provinces.