The Yemeni Government (Saba)

The Priorities of the New Yemeni Government


Mon, 26-02-2024 11:04 AM, Aden Time

Combating corruption and implementing economic and administrative reforms are among the most prominent priorities and urgent demands of the new government.

Dr Mohammed Jamal Al-Shoaibi (South24)

The new Yemeni government, led by Prime Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak, is faced with several thorny issues and accumulated challenges, the most prominent of which is providing services and stabilizing the local currency which is about to reach its lowest point in history. This is in addition to providing employees’ salaries, bringing the state’s revenues under one umbrella, and ensuring food security – all of which are threatened by the regional tension and the escalating Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Combating corruption and implementing economic and administrative reforms are among the most prominent priorities and urgent demands of the new government. 

Bin Mubarak

It can be said that Dr. Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak maintains good ties with the Yemeni parties within the Internationally-Recognized Government camp. This is besides his more than 10 years of experience in the crisis file and the extensive foreign ties that he built when he was Foreign Minister. All these factors together are supposed to help him as the Prime Minister of Yemen. However, his track record as the Foreign Minister was far from perfect. 

Bin Mubarak failed to address the issue of overemployment in the Yemeni embassies, consulates, and missions abroad. Moreover, he was accused of causing a diplomatic crisis with Egypt in April 2023 following his earlier visit to Ethiopia and his statements in Addis Ababa that Cairo took exception to1. This led to ongoing Egyptian measures that have complicated the travel of Yemenis. Moreover, his previous links to the Islah Party (Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood) raise concerns about their impact on his priorities and plans. 

Basic Issues 

During the meeting that brought together bin Mubarak and his Cabinet with Rashad Al-Alimi, Chairman of the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC - the executive body of Yemen's internationally recognized government), broad lines were drawn regarding the most important and prominent urgent issues. These include addressing the economic aspect and the living conditions of people with a focus on the state’s need to fulfill its commitments such as ensuring salary payment and improving the basic services as well as giving Aden its due recognition that complements its status as the capital city of the country. 

Practically, bin Mubarak faces two urgent demands in respect of the majority of people in the areas controlled by the Internationally Recognized Government. This is especially related to the deterioration in the provision of electricity and water services and the collapse of the national currency’s price against the dollar, as well as its impact on the prices of commodities. Contrary to the conditions in which his predecessor Maeen Abdulmalik took office, the appointment of bin Mubarak has come amid immense financial hardships that has delayed the payment of employees’ salaries in December and January. 

This change in the top of the government’s leadership was accompanied by an announcement about the delivery of the second installment ($250 million) of the Saudi $1.2 billion grant allocated for supporting the operational budget and paying of salaries. However, this isn’t enough to make any real improvement or change the collapsed economic situation after the price of one dollar reached nearly 1,700 riyals. This comes in the wake of the cessation of oil exports and the decline of customs revenues due to the decrease of navigation activities in the Port of Aden following the opening of the Houthi-controlled Port of Al-Hodeida in early 2023.2 

This was confirmed through statements by the Governor of the Yemeni Central Bank Ahmed bin Ahmed Ghaleb Al-Maabqi who told ’Reuters’ that “the second installment of the Saudi grant aims to support salary payments for only some months to help people purchase necessary commodities such as food products”. 

This demonstrates that despite the importance of the Saudi financial aid in terms of value and timing, the prospects of its contribution toward improving conditions at a sustainable pace remain limited. This is because the money isn’t invested in establishing productive projects to generate revenues but is being used to cover the customer needs and paying salaries. 

Initial Moves

The new Prime Minister carried out remarkable initial moves, including a field visit to the ’Central Organization for Control and Auditing‘, where he stressed its role to disclose information and fight corruption. He handed its Chairman a list of names, including of some institutions whose work is required to be monitored and reviewed as a first stage. 

Furthermore, bin Mubarak visited some service and health facilities, including the ’General Directorate of Passports, Immigration and Nationality‘ as well as the ’Al-Jamhuria General Hospital‘ in Aden. He also met leaders of the Central Bank and some ministries. On February 18, he issued a directive for setting up a tender committee for purchasing fuel for electricity generating stations. 

Measures taken to rationalize public expenditure include his instructions to reduce the participation of ministers in visits abroad. He ordered all Yemeni diplomatic missions abroad to represent the government at all events in the countries of their posting. The participation of Yemeni ministers abroad is only limited to the Arab ministerial council meetings and events at that level, after obtaining prior approvals. 

On Thursday (Feb 22), bin Mubarak met the Cabinet and announced some decisions and measures to address the conditions in the land and sea ports. These measures include applying job rotation in ports and appointing specialized security forces to protect and guard them. He also directed the Cabinet to upgrade the infrastructure of these ports, and approved new regulations to fight smuggling of currencies, money, precious metals and gemstones out of the country. 

These initial moves are undoubtedly considered positive indications. However, they remain subject to their outcomes and the actual impact on the ground which can’t be predicted now.

The Failure of the Maeen administration 

The reasons for the failure of Maeen Abdulmalik, who headed two governments since 2018, can be summarized in the following points:

1- The spread of corruption and poor governance in different ministries and government institutions amid the absence of law, oversight and accountability by the relevant parties. 

2- The emergence of a phenomenon about the war overriding political services. Some forces within the government conveniently exported it to crises, burdens and challenges at all levels, especially in Aden and South Yemen. They intentionally caused extensive chaos in living standards including the full absence of civic services.

3- The continuous implementation of wrong economic policies and its resultant repercussions. This increased pressure on the government’s limited resources in a way that prevented it from fulfilling its commitments and led to the failure of paying of salaries or managing the budgets of state institutions in the governorates under its control. 

4- The failure to find genuine financial and monetary solutions to withdraw the large mass of banknotes that was printed over the past years. This led to a substantial collapse in the value of the local currency due to the government's failure to provide a cover for foreign currency. 

Related: Failure and Fringe: Maeen Abdulmalik in the Spotlight 

Proposed Recommendations

1- There is a need to find a solution to the economic issue, which has been complicated by the urgent need to cut down on the hotbeds of corruption. This obligates the Prime Minister to adopt an uncompromising strategy, particularly towards unifying the revenues under one umbrella and depositing them entirely in the Yemeni Central Bank in Aden. 

2- Reducing public expenses and collecting the state revenues in a regular way as well as depositing them in the Central Bank in Aden in local and foreign currencies. 

3- Regularity in the government’s work inside the country in addition to dealing with people’s concerns swiftly. The presence of the government’s members inside Aden will help to normalize conditions and enhance its status as the capital city. 

4- There is a need to find international guarantees for resumption of crude oil exports from IRYG ports and transfer the revenues to the Central Bank in Aden.

5- Revoking any unilateral agreement that would produce negative economic repercussions in areas controlled by the government. We mean the prior understanding that led to a deal to open the Port of Al-Hodeida which caused a decline in the commercial activities in the Port of Aden.

6- Consolidating international cooperation and participation in humanitarian and development efforts as well as combating poverty, and creating strong partnerships with the relevant international organizations. 

7- Working to unify the tax bases, monitoring the collection process, and supervising it directly. 

8- Unifying the sovereign revenues and depositing them in the Central Bank of Aden. This is in addition to deleting any accounts opened in other banks by the governorates’ authorities or being managed and controlled by them. This is consistent with the public budget’s rule which prohibits allocating certain revenues for certain expenses. 

9- Pushing the international organizations and oil companies to move their head offices from the Houthi-controlled Sanaa to Aden and obligating them to open accounts in the Central Bank.

10- Enhancing security and stability in the different governorates and ensuring law enforcement.

1 Cairo took exception to statements by then Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs in the legitimate government, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, who during a visit to Addis Ababa in March 2023 announced Yemen's “support for all the steps taken by the Ethiopian government in order to move the wheel of development”. This was interpreted by Egypt as siding with Ethiopia in its dispute over the Renaissance Dam, on the River Nile, which has been a source of disagreement between the two countries since its construction began in 2011. After his statement in Ethiopia, there were voices in Yemen calling for the dismissal of bin Mubarak after dozens of Yemeni travelers were prevented from entering Egyptian territory. Egypt imposed new restrictions on the entry of Yemenis to Egypt, including obtaining visas in advance and reducing the length of stay.

2 In mid-February 2023, the Iran-backed Houthi militia and Saudi media platforms announced that commercial ships have begun to enter the Port of Hodeidah without being seized or obstructed. This came as part of an Omani-brokered truce agreement with Riyadh. The Yemeni government has accused the Houthis of waging an economic war by instructing traders in regions under their control to import products through Hodeidah instead of government-controlled ports.

Dr Mohammed Jamal Al-Shoaibi, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Aden 

Note: This is a translated version of the original text written in Arabic

YemenYemeni governmentAhmed bin MubarakPrime MinisterAdenSouth Yemen