Parliament & Cabinet:Tension accumulates [Archives:2005/878/Front Page]

September 19 2005

SANA'A- Sept. 18- Tension between the Parliament and the Cabinet, represented by PM Abdulqader Bajammal who attended the Parliament's session last Thursday and Saturday, has increased after a number of ministers were summoned for breaking the law.

The Cabinet, according to the Parliament, did not apply the wages and salaries law, but approved the sale of liquid gas to the European and Korean markets without implementing the recommendations of the Parliament. It also violated the sales tax law by levying an 8% tax sale in lieu of 5% as stipulated by the law.

In addition, answers were given to inquiries of some MPs on new corruption cases in the Ministry of Oil and Minerals and flagrant infringements committed in the ministries of public works and highways, electricity, water and interior.

The Parliament accused the government of playing on the State's general budget for the fiscal year 2005 by slashing funds for the investment programs by 50% and the Parliament's budget by 25%, in addition to unjustified expenditures and the demand for additional provision estimated at 52% of the general budget.

Despite the fact Mr. Bajammal avoided to meet the Parliament once again, he immediately answered questions of the Parliament fearing a recurrence of the event when his government was summoned by the Parliament concerning the freezing of the investment of Yemen Hunt Oil Company in block 18 in Marib after over 75 MPs charged the government with a series of violations.

Bajammal, who in abnormal way addressed the Parliament, said the budget grants the government the right to cancel some of its items, adding that the government signed an agreements on the sale of liquid gas based on a certificate from a specialized company. The certificate confirmed the availability of sufficient reserves for local consumption and export.

In his response to why the wages and salaries law has not been put in effect, Bajammal said the law can't be applied easily and that part of the wages and salaries strategy has been implemented mainly in the military and security institutions where employees got their salaries with the increase starting from last Tuesday.

Bajammal attributed the delay of implementing the strategy for civil service employees due to multi-dippers and some parties have not prepared proper salary lists despite President's declarations saying there are over 60 thousand two-post employees in military and security institutions.

PM attempted to withdraw from the Parliament last Thursday giving MPs the right to quiz the concerned ministers. This is a trick taken by Bajammal to shift rage to the ministries of finance and oil.

MP Ali Ashal, a member of the Development and Oil Committee said he was convinced by the answers of the Minister of Oil and Minerals concerning a scandalous corruption case committed by the ministry when it gave compensation worth of 64,400,000 Yemeni rials (1,6 million dollars) to one of the lessees of a fruit and vegetables yard. He confirmed the amount was delivered under PM's orders.

Ashal said it is the arbitration office through which illegal bargains were passed in the oil blocks No. 53 and 18. Minister of Oil and Minerals acknowledged before the Parliament that the compensation is a result of dispute between the Yemen Oil Company and al-Bakri Foundation.

For his part, MP Abdulaziz Jubari mentioned that the Deputy Minister of Public Works and Highways acknowledged that his ministry violates the tender law in projects implemented by 80%. This enraged Abdullah al-Daf'e, Minister of Public Works and Highways who then refused to answer to MPs' questions.

The Parliament demanded confidence be withdrawn from the Minister of Public Works and Highways, who has been attacked and humiliated by some MPs and his ministry has been accused of implementing road projects contrarily to international standards and specifications. This led al-Daf'e to blame MPs for misunderstanding.

In spite of the sharp tension between the Parliament and the Cabinet, the former referred the case of oil and liquid gas to the Development and Oil Committee.

Over the last four years, Bajammal's government used to open additional allocations, which the Parliament believe they have been already delivered, but what remained is the Parliament's approval. The rate of additional provisions to the general budget was estimated at 15, 19 and 16% in the fiscal years 2001, 2002 and 2003. The overall additional allocations in 2004 reached 188,589,932 Yemeni rials, equal to 25% of the state's general budget.

2005 came with the government demanding the Parliament to approve additional provision worth 451,164,180 rials, equivalent to 52% of the state's general budget.

The Presidency's share of such allocations came at 8 billion and 200 billion rials spent in the form of assistances. 361 billion rials have been allocated for the purchase of trucks for the government while 2 billions are spent on celebrations and conferences.