Roundtable discussion in Aden for the private sector on Economic and Institutional Reforms Matrix
Aden, December 28 – the Studies & Economic Media Center (SEMC and Economic Reforms Task Force (ERTF) implemented a roundtable discussion on the "Economic and Institutional Reforms Matrix (Private Sector's perspective) , in cooperation with the Center of International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and Yemen Business Club (YBC) , under the patronage of Mr. Mohammed Abdo Saeed Anam, Chairman of The federation of Yemen chambers of commerce and industry.
In the opening of the meeting, Head of ERTF Mr. Ahmed Bazara clarified that the matrix's draft put for discussion with the private sector, experts and CSOs representatives was worked upon extensively in the previous months, to formulate immediate priorities of development in Yemen, and that its made of 3 primary parts merged into prioritized procedures that are followed-up by ERTF (which consists of 24 businessmen, economic experts and CSOs representatives), in addition to immediate procedures to limit negative effects of oil subsidies cut, and fixing laws and procedures that obstruct economic growth, and present suggested governmental decrees needed to stimulate economic growth and overcome effects of fiscal reforms.
Bazara also pointed out - while reviewing the matrix - to the importance of having extensive discussions about the matrix by the private sector of different Yemeni regions, as this will enrich the matrix and mobilize the private sector itself to advocate it, and mentioned that this meeting is a commencement of similar meetings that will be held in the six regions of Yemen.
Mr. Mohammed Abdo Saeed Anam, Chairman of the federation of Yemen chambers of commerce and industry, praised on the immense interaction of the new government (Bahah's government) taking care of the private sector, hoping this will be reflected positively on the economic process at which the private sector is a big component.
He also mentioned that the reforms matrix is "A good initiative, which will become a fundament of cooperation with the government in the upcoming period especially that it doesn't only contain long or mid-term reforms, but also immediate ones to save the country", and gave a quick review on the memorandum of understanding signed between the government and the private sector in Washington DC last November, that aims to engage the private sector in economic growth and sustained development.
Mr. Fathi Abdulwasa Hayel, Chairman of YBC, spoke and welcomed participants, and pointed out to services and experience provided to Yemeni businessmen by the club, emphasizing that it's open for all businessmen and women in Aden and its neighboring areas.
Chairman of SEMC, (which is the working secretariat for the ERTF) Mr. Mustafa Nasr gave a brief on the importance of this roundtable discussion held in Aden, and sorted out matrix's different stages, formation of ERTF, which started work on March 2012 consisting of a distinguished group of businessmen, CSOs representatives and economic experts.
Participants gave a number of remarks regarding the matrix, and emphasized on the importance of inclusion of some prioritized issues like anti-corruption, installment of procedures to solve commercial disputes, and reducing aimless expenditure.
Participants also requested the cancelation of Ministry of Oil's decree that binds oil companies to have their main offices in Sana'a, and requested putting regulations between the government and private sector so that contracts include a binding element of transparency and good governance principles, and pointed out to the importance of restoration of state's status, dealing with disruptions in seaports and customs outlets, and fixing taxation system.
This discussion comes within the program of "Enhancing the voice of the Private Sector" as the first meeting to discuss the reforms matrix, and it is planned to hold many similar meetings in different governorates and regions of Yemen, in the aim of enriching the matrix and advocate it at the side of the government and its implementing bodies, both in local and national levels.
· Most important points brought up by participants:
- The government agreed upon the withdrawal of the partnership law with the private sector which was diverted by the previous government due to sector's objection, and showed understanding to the remarks of the private sector and suggested modification of disputed articles.
- Partnership law between the government and the private sector with regard to investment in infrastructure will allow the sector to participate in implementing such projects, as it will encourage establishment of IPO companies to manage them, where the public will have a role contributing to such companies, which in turn is important in order to engage everyone in the development process and distribute returns to all stake-holders.
- Private sector pledged to contribute socially (corporate-social-responsibility) and announced establishment of "Aden Institution of Human Development" as a contribution by the private sector, as well as the support to establishing typical police stations in primary cities.
- Request to reconsider structure of economic laws, so they get re-designed to become development-encouraging, because most of them are contradictory to each other and were issued in separate periods inconsistently.
- Making modifications to the current transportation law.
- Focusing on creating a specialized commercial judiciary, and quickness in solving commercial disputes.
- Prompt cancelation of the law of senior posts holders which gives immunity to senior officials from accountability in corruption cases.
- The matrix was prepared while there were particular circumstances of oil subsidies cuts, but now the situation changed due to the fall of oil prices, and using the term "savings" with regard to cuts makes no sense if we know that there are no savings created once cuts took place, since there is a deficit in the state's budget because of oil subsidies, and so a subsidies cut will reduce deficit but will not make any "savings".
- Immediate mechanisms should be implemented to release import of oil products and prices, and some regulations of countries similar to Yemen like Jordan and Tunisia could be used.
- Since there are many problems with regard to Yemeni judiciary in terms of independence and integrity, there must be an alternative judiciary system as civil arbitration centers, or establishment of a national arbitration center which has competent and qualified legal experts.
- Trust has to be restored in the state and its institutions, and designations of senior positions should be made upon criteria of integrity and competency.
- Inclusion of promising resources within the matrix like tourism, fisheries and seaports.
- Responsibility of the private sector in supporting scientific research and youth and thought centers.
- Focusing on women employment in corporations and companies of the private sector.
- Improving bank services and put salaries to be paid through banks, in addition to enhancing their contribution in small enterprises and qualifying of youth, and have these youth trained properly in accordance to the needs of labor market.
- Enhance partnership between the private sector and civil society, and support CSOs to do their roles in social development.
- Dec 29, 2014