MPs consider it constitution-violating, but government requests further budget allocations [Archives:2006/997/Front Page]

November 9 2006

By: Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, Nov. 8 ) On Tuesday, the Yemeni Cabinet approved an additional allocation for the current financial year to be used for current, capital and investment expenditures, government loans in Sana'a.

At its regular meeting, the Cabinet referred the draft law seeking additional allocations to Parliament to finalize required constitutional measures. The draft is expected to face wide opposition in Parliament, as have similar projects the government has submitted in the past.

According to finance committee member Abdulkarim Shaiban, making an additional allocation for the current budget year is unjustified and violates Yemen's Constitution. However, he expects the draft law to pass due to the General People's Congress (GPC) majority in Parliament.

The additional allocation announced by the Cabinet is nearly YR 422.64 billion, or approximately 45 percent of the 2006 general budget.

Shaiban asserted that the government is addicted to additional budget allocations because they're spent without being controlled and furthermore, Parliament is impaired and weak about auditing government accounts or forcing it to commit to the constitution.

The cause for this, according to Shaiban, a member of the opposing Islah Party, is the existence of a GPC majority dominating most committees, particularly those concerned with control and accountability.

He further predicted that the Yemeni government already has spent the additional sum prior to Parliament's consent. Though law dictates that the government apply for additional allocations, which should be on a small scale, before spending it, the government has become accustomed to committing such violations over the past few years.

Shaiban also accused the government of intentionally creating a deficit in the general budget, estimating oil at $40/barrel, a price lower than international prices, which are $70. He asserted that such government measures are an attempt to obtain further foreign aid and loans.

Concluding his remarks, Shaiban noted that the government doesn't care about Parliament, nor did it provide detailed categorizations of expenditures on previous applications for additional allocations.

Additionally, he alleged that Parliament doesn't know anything about aspects of spending, so the government intentionally submits applications in four papers to confuse it. In this regard, he referred to past government violations involving YR 40 billion given to contractors under direct order and without tenders.

For his part, Yasser Al-Awadi, deputy head of the GPC bloc, defended such a decision by the government, considering it natural and predictable.

He also declared that the government has the right to request additional allocations if there is extra revenue and spending outside the budget, further denying that such violates neither the law nor the constitution.

Over the past few years, Yemen's government has become accustomed to requesting additional year-end budget allocations, aiming to dispose of revenues surplus achieved via oil pricing differences, which reached 50 percent this year.