WASHINGTON, Dec.10 (Saba) – The World Bank (WB) approved on Wednesday a $ 90 million grant to prop up the Yemeni government's program aiming to protect the poorest groups.
The grant amount is an urgent support for the government to fund a program of cash transfers provided to over one million poor families through the Social Welfare Fund (SWF), which is the main social security network program in Yemen, according to a statement issued by WB.
In the absence of strong rates of economic growth and job creation, there are still many families struggling to meet the most basic needs of living, the statement pointed out.
The statement elaborated that the transfers will ensure delivering cash assistance to the poorest families during this period, in which the country faces a set of economic difficulties that worsened as a result of the measures taken recently by the government and related to lifting fuel subsidies.
"Yemen spends on fuel subsidies more than it spends on education and health care services together", said Wael Zakout, director of WB office in Yemen.
Reforming the fuel subsidies system will help in reducing the significant deficit in the general budget and directing the fiscal resources to the items that serve the poor interests, Zakout added.
According to the statement, the program is a part of a larger response of donors that has been coordinated to address the economic challenges facing Yemen in the current period. An additional amount of $ 28.47 million was provided by the U.S. in support of the cash transfers program.
"More than half of Yemen's population lives below the poverty line", head of the WB team in charge of the program Lire Ersado said. He added almost a similar number of people suffer from food insecurity and need immediate assistance.
Ersado continue to say "We respond by supporting cash transfers to about 7 million Yemenis, who are most likely to suffer and more than half of whom are women. "
The current WB portfolio in Yemen includes 35 projects with a net fiscal links amounting to US $ 1.1 billion.