Parliamentarians and observers are divided on the Yemeni government's newly approved agenda, which focuses primarily on security and economic stability.
Yemeni parliamentarians approved the agenda and granted the reconciliation government led by Mohamed Salem Basendwah a vote of confidence on December 28th following three days of discussion.
The government affirmed its commitment to implementing parliament's recommendations, including all the provisions of the Gulf Co-operation Council initiative, as well as restoring security in all provinces, ending armed clashes in the cities and re-opening roads and streets.
The government also pledged to restore public services, particularly water and electricity, as quickly as possible, make petroleum products and cooking gas available, and adjust price levels to reflect the current economic situation.
Parliament granted the government and its programme a vote of confidence based upon the prime minister's commitment to implement the parliamentary recommendations, according to Mohammed Abdullah al-Maqtari, a Joint Meeting Parties parliamentarian.
"As part of granting the government a vote of confidence, parliament gave priority to a number of issues, including the restoration of security, stability and services to citizens. It also recommended that the government reconsider petroleum product prices," al-Maqtari said.
Al-Maqtari, however, criticised the government's programme, saying it is "too general in most of its components and plans and does not focus on specific issues, considering it was formulated by an extraordinary government formed under extraordinary circumstances."
Dr. Hamoud al-Najjar, head of the communication and co-ordination office with the World Trade Organisation in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, told Al-Shorfa that the government's programme is ambitious, adding that "the government's priorities are to restore security and stability, which is the key to the success of the government's other tasks, especially those relating to the economy and living conditions".
Halting the economic decline would be an important achievement by the government, al-Najjar said. "It is hoped the government will be able to instil calm and provide citizens with living requirements, especially education, health services, water, electricity and petroleum products."
In regards to the government's goal of achieving positive growth rates, al-Najjar said that success "hinges on internal and external conditions as they relate to the international community providing the necessary assistance in order for the government to address some of the aberrations in the economy."
He said the most important issue to address was the lifting of subsidies on petroleum products, "otherwise the reconciliation government will bear additional burdens while unable to collect taxes, customs duties and other sources of revenue".
Mohamed Salah, deputy chairman of the chamber of commerce in Sanaa, said the business sector is greeting the reconciliation government's programme with optimism, especially since it focuses on improving living conditions, achieving stability and sustainable national development through effective private-sector partnerships and infrastructure investment, and cultivating an environment that attracts local and foreign investors.
"If the government succeeds in implementing the promised economic programmes, Yemen would not need to solicit foreign investment because Yemeni funds outside the country -- estimated at $30 billion dollars -- will return and serve as the underwriter and engine of sustainable development," Salah said.
However, Ali Abu Haliqa, chairman of parliament's constitutional committee, criticised the government's programme, describing it as "modest".
"It covers general issues when the government should have addressed specific issues," Abu Haliqa said. "This government lacks the resources, unless Yemen receives assistance".
The government's success is contingent upon adopting a national agenda based on the interests of Yemen, said Abu Haliqa, not the interests of the parties.