Disputes between Yemeni government and tribal leaders over budget
As a reaction, the sheikhs held a special meeting last Monday, attended by 400 sheikhs from various Yemeni governorates and belonging to different political parties. They released a statement to President Hadi, complaining about Basindawa's declaration last Friday in Ta'iz.
"The meeting was held following the statement of the prime minister in which he claimed that the money sheikhs receive was allocated to them by the former regime to buy their loyalty," said Hussein Jazem, the sheikhs' spokesman.
"The sheikhs [from the General People's Congress] don't like the way the prime minister treats them because he is biased against them. Sometimes he behaves as if he is the prime minister of the Joint Meeting Parties," added Jazem.
"The sheiks want the prime minister to treat them with an even hand as president Hadi does. They demand that the prime minister apologize to them for saying offensive things and they demand that he treats them without prejudice, as they support change in Yemen and aren't hindering the implementation of the Gulf Initiative," he added.
"The prime minister insulted the sheikhs twice, saying that they are corrupt, and declaring that they receive YR 13 billion in compensation per month, while they only receive YR 3 billion. They [sheikhs] called for president Hadi to investigate this matter," said Jazem.
The prime minister's declaration came after the demands of the youth in Change Squares across Yemen, who protested the allocation of salaries for sheikhs, whom they consider corrupt and who they feel squandered the national budget of the former regime.
"Instead of wasting public funds on sheikhs and public figures, it is better to give the money to the poor, who suffer from severe poverty," according to Samah Radman, a human rights activist.
This year's water services budget is just YR 4 billion, and four months of combined salaries for newly recruited workers is YR 1.4 billion, according to a report from the Yemeni Ministry of Finance.
Raid Abdurrahman, the press secretary of the Yemeni Cabinet, affirmed that the prime minister committed to stop financial allowances to sheikhs, during his visit to Ta'iz last week.
"The money has not yet been dispersed to the sheikhs and is considered an excess in the budget, and must be dealt with," he added.
"The sheikh's financial allocations aren't being paid because the Ministry of Finance wants to revoke their allowances," he said.
Earlier last month, the Yemeni Parliament passed the 2012 budget, estimated at YR 2.11 trillion, the equivalent of about USD 9.8 billion. This is an increase of about 37 percent in comparison to last year's budget, estimated at YR 1.6 trillion (USD 7.4 billion).