by Fuad Rajeh
SANAA, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Yemen is seeking 11 billion U.S. dollars in urgent aid to stand up on its feet after the latest tumultuous developments, including the 2011 unrest, deepened the woes of the poorest country in the region.
Senior officials at the planning and international cooperation ministry said fund shortages stand as the biggest roadblock to addressing development and humanitarian problems in Yemen.
Recently, donors pledged 6.4 billion U.S. dollars in aid to Yemen to fill part of the financial gap to meet short-term development and humanitarian requirements according to the transitional program for stabilization and development 2012-2014.
In the meantime, Yemen is looking forward to more donor pledges expected to be made during the meeting of its friends that takes place on Sept. 27 in New York.
Wael Shamsan, an economist at Yemen Economic and Social Development Research Center, said Yemen is experiencing complex economic, security and political crises at the same time. "In such situation, regional and international aid is necessary, especially as the government has failed to impose the rule of law across the country and protect the public properties such as oil and gas pipelines," he said.
Officials and observers said the need for donation is a direct result of a range of problems that have faced Yemen in the past decade, first and foremost, incompetent management of the national resources.
Mustafa Nasr, head of the studies and economic media center, said the problem of poor planning and incompetence to use the national resources is one of the biggest reasons for the deteriorating situation in the country.
Nonetheless, the donor aid comes within the support of the international community to the transition process under the West- backed power-transfer deal reached after the 2011 unrest, he said.
"Yemen is a least developed country and has the right to ask for aid. Accumulated problems, however, remain the first reason for that," he said.
Taha al-Fusayel, an advisor to the ministry of trade and industry and an economics professor at Sanaa University, said the need for donation is a normal thing because most the countries including those with largest economies continue to depend on grants from international organizations such as the World Bank.
Rich countries previously promised to allocate part of their GDP to support the least developed countries such as Yemen and that is why Yemen largely depends on donation to boost its economy and development, al-Fusayel said.
Suleiman al-Qutabry, assistant deputy minister of planning for development project, said "Donors have pledged conditional aid and we hope we can meet all requirements to get the short-term aid for 2012-2014," he said. "It is very important to streamline the procedures and develop the mechanism of data flow, especially information related to external aid the way it is used".
The Yemeni government's priorities, according to an official document, include controlling the budget deficit and the inflation rates, boosting confidence in the national currency and conducting robust fiscal reforms. In addition, there is a special focus on giving priority to labor-intensive projects, reducing unemployment especially among young people, expanding education enrolment, improving the investment climate, fighting corruption and improving transparency and supervision mechanisms.
Throughout the past decade, Yemen has faced challenges ranging from dwindling resources, conflicts and insecurity affecting the flow of investments to political and social unrest.
The 2011 mass protests against the former regime deepened the country's woes, promoting observers to say Yemen is now almost completely paralyzed and is in urgent need for external aid.
Nasr said the alarming security situation tops Yemen's challenges at the moment because instability is affecting everything at a time when the country is largely relying on incomes from foreign investments.
Other problems may include the unprecedented humanitarian crisis affecting about 10 million of the Yemeni people, absence of poor basic services and soaring unemployment, he said.