Yemen's privatization plans are to kick off with the refinery in the southern port city of Aden but the sell-off of the national carrier Yemenia has been put on hold, Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) reported Monday, January 8.
Yemeni Prime Minister Abdul Karim al-Iriyani told MEED in an interview that preparations for the privatization of Aden refinery were almost complete, without giving a specific date.
"The winning investor will initially take over a 51 percent stake in the refinery," he said. "This is the only project in Yemen that is suitable for privatization."
Iriyani played down the prospects for privatizing Yemenia in the short term.
"It could be that in five years' time Yemenia will become attractive (to investors). I do not think that Yemenia is attractive to foreign investors today," the prime minister admitted.
Iriyani said a sell-off of the airline would need to be linked to capitalization. "Any investor in Yemenia should inject capital, to improve the airline's fleet and capacity."
In a new project in Aden, Yemenia has signed a joint venture agreement with the Port of Aden and Yemen's free zone authority to set up and manage a $15 million air cargo village at the southern city's airport, MEED added. It is scheduled to open in 2004.
Other targets of privatisation in Yemen are telecoms, three cements plants and a pharmaceutical company, Gianni Brizzi, the World Bank's representative in Sanaa, told MEED.
"There is a commitment to go ahead with privatization, but there has been little action so far. Unless there are major changes, we don't expect to see a very dynamic privatization process in Yemen," he said.
Yemen, one of the world's poorest countries, embarked in 1995 on a program sponsored by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to cut subsidies and privatize state industries. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )