Interviews

Planning and International Cooperation Minister, Waed Badheeb.

Thu - 05 Aug 2021 - 07:04 PM ،،،

Asharq Al-Awsat


 The legitimate government and donors are evaluating alternatives for organizations that refuse to disclose bank statements for their activities in Yemen, revealed Planning and International Cooperation Minister Waed Badheeb.

Badheeb noted that, in Yemen, local and national agencies operate under high standards of integrity and independence.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he confirmed that his ministry, over the last six months, was able to attract $500 million in funding for food aid programs and essential services run by UN agencies in the war-torn nation.

“The ministry was able to provide important funds related to social protection programs and support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” he revealed, adding that necessary funds were poured into advancing the agricultural, fisheries, and primary services sectors.

“It is estimated that the total funds amassed for development during the past six months exceeded $500 million,” remarked the minister, noting that the money will be channeled into programs implemented by international organizations.

Moreover, Badheeb highlighted the unique development support provided by Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY).

Work is underway with the SDRPY to plan and implement an integrated system for comprehensive support that covers development, humanitarian, economic and service fields, he revealed, adding that joint efforts with the Saudi program also look to underpin currency stability and secure fuel in Yemen.

Accomplished Priorities

“Since day one, (the ministry) has worked effectively to contribute to preparing the general framework of the government program,” Badheeb told Asharq Al-Awsat, noting that his department helped in preparing research that guided policy development in several sectors and inspired national visions.

In cooperation with other ministries, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation prepared studies that determined the situation in various Yemeni sectors.

This comes to help in outlining a national vision for developing, ensuring and integrating sectoral policies and aligning them with the medium-term spending framework, explained Badheeb.

The minister also pointed to authorities establishing the 2021 investment program “according to principles that ensure alignment of the needs and priorities of the government.”

“We have worked on expanding development cooperation with Yemen’s partners found in states and regional and international organizations,” said Badheeb, adding that Yemeni authorities are in agreement on accelerating the implementation of ongoing projects and relaunching suspended ones.

Badheeb’s ministry is also focused on activating communication and coordination mechanisms with partners to set up a framework for comprehensive reconstruction and economic recovery in the war-torn nation, all within a strategic vision.

The minister stressed that authorities seek “to carry out a comprehensive correction of humanitarian and relief work in Yemen.

Other than monitoring operations carried out by international organizations, the ministry emphasizes the importance of adopting principles of partnership, transparency, independence, and decentralization in distributing life-saving relief aid.

It is keen on linking aid distribution to overall development efforts in Yemen.

Operations have started the automation process whereby a single platform was established for the registry and approval of organizations and their sub-agreements, revealed Badheeb.

“This facilitates the flow of work and ease of supervision and control over the performance of organizations,” explained the minister.

Current Challenges, Donations

Badheeb believes that one of the most pressing challenges today is strengthening partnerships with the international community and major donors in providing the appropriate environment for resuming direct activities from the interim capital, Aden.

Finding investment opportunities and effective partnerships with the private sector and civil society organizations to advance the economic and development situation also figures high on the list of challenges facing development action in Yemen.

For Badheeb, the return of government and political stability represents “a real demand that will enhance the creation of an attractive environment for the return of donor organizations and funds to Aden.”

He called on organizations and donor countries to lower their requirements so that they aid political parties in returning to the spirit of the Saudi-sponsored Riyadh Agreement, which aims to put Yemen on track to recovery.

On that note, Badheeb reviewed efforts and attempts he is personally making to bridge the rift and bring the views closer between the parties.

As for donations, the minister underlined that the government “doesn’t receive any of the donors’ money.”

“Instead, the money is distributed through UN organizations and local NGOs,” confirmed Badheeb.

“Our ministry seeks to follow up and facilitate the work of these international organizations on the ground,” said the minister. Authorities are helping conduct surveys for the needs of different sectors where the agencies are operating.

“As you know, during the donor conference organized by the UN and the governments of Sweden and Switzerland at the beginning of March 2021, donor countries committed to giving Yemen $1.67 billion for the current year,” reminded the minister. The grant would be distributed according to the requirements of the humanitarian response plan to sectors related to emergency interventions.

This means the money would mainly be channeled into programs related to food security, agriculture, nutrition, health, water, environmental sanitation, and protection and support for IDPs and refugee camps.

“We are still working and waiting to restore confidence in the government to deal with it (the donation) directly,” reaffirmed Badheeb, noting that more than a third of donated funds goes to administrative costs of third-party organizations.

“We are trying to support implementation mechanisms in partnership with our national institutions,” said the minister, adding that the move aims to reduce administrative expenses spent by organizations

More than 90 NGOs from 20 countries are currently registered at the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation.

Badheeb moved on to criticize how organizations and agencies operating in Yemen “fail in reporting their activities to the government.” The legitimate government has repeatedly requested from these organizations and the World Bank to get filled in on their work.

“We also have, time and time again, called for cash transfers and banking operations related to aid and grants to be vetted through the Central Bank,” added the minister.

Badheeb acknowledged the validity of some preconditions set by organizations concerning the Yemen Central Bank audits, but noted that financing and money transfers could start with transparency that the Yemeni government guarantees.