Politicians & Sheikhs Beg for Alms [Archives:2001/52/Reportage]

December 24 2001

Jalal al-Shara’abi
Yemen Times
Each year at the end of the month of Ramadan hundreds of beggars gather in front of the Prime Ministers Office to receivemoney offered to the poor and needy.
The money amounts given to such people differ from year to year probably according to the number of beggars. This year the current government of Bajamal seems to resolve on fighting poverty and implementing the government’s program of eradicating poverty.
The scenes of the poor setting beside the gate of the Cabinets Office from the early morning till 3 o’clock p.m. on the last day of Ramadan waiting for five hundred Riyals is illustrative of how the government is strict in implementing the austerity program.
A beggar commented, “this is the first test for the Premier to prove being more generous than his predecessor.”
A source at the Prime Minister Office said, “The money allocated as alms totals YR 17 million at the rate of 2000 for each person; however, only five hundred Riyals was given.”On the same day, tens of tribal sheikhs were gathering in front of the Republic Presidency Office waiting for assistance, but with great difference. Alms here mount to millions and alms-recipients are not looking for a modest life but for building luxurious villas.
Begging has turned to be a profession for so many people including politicians from both the opposition and the ruling party in the month of Ramadan. Some of them go to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to receive their financial entitlements. Some other are very unhappy with the president’s decision to cancel Ramadan’s night sessions that enabled them to directly contact him and ask for large sums of money.
Begging of both politicians and tribal sheikhs is an unhealthy situation, and it is merely restricted to Yemen. We feel sorry for the beggars waiting the help of the premier’s Office.