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Houthis in Yemen Deprive Workers of 20 Months Worth of Salaries

Houthis in Yemen Deprive Workers of 20 Months Worth of Salaries

Friday, 6 July, 2018 - 07:45
Yemenis shop in an open air market in Sanaa. (AFP)
Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat
The Iran-backed Houthi militias have since their 2014 coup against the legitimacy forces been looting the state’s revenues for their war efforts. They have rooted themselves in all institutions to achieve their nefarious goals and deprive thousands of employees of their salaries, despite having acquired massive funds that would allow them to pay these wages.

The latest legitimacy foreign ministry statement revealed that the Houthis had looted 6 billion dollars in 2017. These funds were reaped from oil revenues, taxes, charitable donations, customs and various fees, as well as state institutions that are under the militias’ control.

Yemen Petroleum Company employees revealed that the Houthis are making profits exceeding 1.5 and 2 billion dollars a day as a result of their monopoly of the oil market and hiking of fuel prices.

Moreover, the Houthis have for 20 months stopped paying the salaries of government employees working in areas under their control. This move came in retaliation to the legitimate government’s relocating of the central bank from Houthi-held Sanaa to legitimacy-held Aden in order to end the militias’ meddling in the national economy, to save the national currency from collapse and salvage what remains of foreign reserves.

Mohammed A., an education sector employee, said that half of his colleagues had quit their jobs after they were no longer being paid.

Yemen boasts some 200,000 employees in this sector, the majority of whom work in regions under Houthi control.

N. Saleh, a teacher, said that most of her colleagues stopped heading to work because they could no longer go on without being paid. The Houthis, meanwhile, appointed school principals who are affiliated to them in order confiscate tuition fees. This sum is added to the monthly fee of 500,000 rials that the militias impose on each student.

In the health sector, the Houthis appointed their own directors and seized all revenues to dispense on their militias. Workers are granted a meager salary of some 20,000 to 40,000 rials (equivalent to 40 – 90 dollars.) Moreover, workers said that the militias are reaping millions of dollars a year from selling medicine import licenses and looting the majority of medical relief provided by international agencies.

In the telecommunications sector, the Houthis continued to pay salaries due to the major profits yielded from this field. The majority of these profits end up in the Houthi leadership pockets to finance their war efforts and various events.

The militias also continued to pay the salaries of its loyalists in the Yemen Oil and Gas Corporation, Hodeidah, Ras Issa and Salif ports and central bank in Sanaa. The revenues reaped from the oil sector go to Houthi pockets, operational expenses, “incentives” and “rewards.”

In the customs and taxes administrations, the militias came up with a creative way to compensate their workers. They agreed to dispense a monthly “incentive” that varies according to the rank of the worker and his job. One of these workers told Asharq Al-Awsat that these incentives barely make up a quarter of what they used to make before the Houthi coup.

The taxes, customs and religious charitable donation (zakat) sector is one of the most vital sectors for the Houthis as it provides them with over 60 percent of their revenues. They have not revealed exact figures of these revenues, but they have probably doubled as a result of their imposing of fees on business owners and commercial companies.

A pro-Houthi source in Sanaa revealed that the militias reaped more than 500,000 rials (some 1 million dollars) from taxes imposed on small business owners in Sanaa’s Maeen district during the first quarter of 2018. Maeen is one of 12 districts in the capital.

Security forces and former military officers, except those deployed on the battlefront, have also been deprived of their salaries, recruits told Asharq Al-Awsat. Those on the field are given a meager sum of some 50 dollars, which is enough for their food and drink and Qat, a narcotic herb popular in Yemen.

In stark contrast, senior militia leaders and officials responsible for supplies and recruiting new members are granted massive funds that they abuse for personal gain, such as buying real estate, cars and land, revealed informed military sources.

Despite this dire reality, many employees working under the militias opt to remain in their posts in spite of the poor salaries because they have no other option, Najib Sh., an energy ministry employee, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Instead of remaining at home, many workers prefer to head to their jobs, especially if this job entails providing services to the people.

J.K., an employee in the transportation and public works sector, said that the minimal incentive he receives each month is better than nothing.

Y.R., a civil service employee, explained that he is sticking to his job despite not having a salary because it is the duty of anyone who can work to continue with their job in order to protect government documents, records and properties from Houthi clutches.

“A day will come when the legitimate government will return and those workers will be needed to one again rebuild institutions,” he added.

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