SANAA Chamber of Commerce complains extortion: Houthi customs creates fuel crisis and raises prices

SANAA Chamber of Commerce complains extortion: Houthi customs creates fuel crisis and raises prices

The Houthi rebel group continues to blackmail merchants in the capital Sana'a and the rest of its regions, holding dozens of commercial shipments of goods, fuel and cooking gas at its customs outlets at the entrances to cities, and imposing illegal customs duties on merchants ' goods.

An official in the Sanaa Chamber of Commerce told the AL-Masdar online that the Houthis have been holding dozens of commercial trucks for days in the newly created customs, including trucks loaded with food commodities and locomotives loaded with oil derivatives and cooking gas, and explained that the Houthi authorities have requested sums Great under different nomenclature including «Customs duties» versus release of shipments.

The capture of oil and gas derivatives has caused a living crisis in the Yemeni capital, which has been experiencing a suffocating fuel and cooking gas crunch since last Saturday, while the detention of food trucks threatens food shortages and price hikes.

Petrol from fuel stations in Sanaa and the black market appeared at record prices, with a 20-liter gallon sold at a price of 18,000 riyals ($37), and the price per liter rose to 900 riyals ($1.5), from 400 riyals (0.65 dollars).

Diesel, which is used to operate power plants, has also been lacking, and the price per liter on the black market has risen to 700 riyals (1.14 dollars), from 350 riyals (0.57 dollars) last week.

Sanaa has started a semi-free car movement since Sunday, and the crisis has been reflected in a 100 percent increase in domestic transport fares, and power plants owned by private businesses have increased the price of the kilo from 185 riyals to 270 riyals per kilo watt.

According to commercial sources told  AL-Masdar online, the customs authority, which is under the control of the Houthis in Sanaa, threatens to confiscate the seized shipments as a violation of a previous circular issued during February, confirming that no shipments should be allowed, except after the submission of a certificate from the Agricultural Credit Bank (CAC Bank) or any bank In Sanaa, the value of these goods has been supplied in Yemeni riyals to any commercial bank, with banks covering imports from the U.S. currency through their offshore accounts.

Traders refused to deal with the al-Houthi circular, fearing they could not withdraw the sums they needed if they were supplied to the banks under Houthi control, and further raised their concerns that the Ministry of Industry in Sana'a had asked them to supply large sums of money to an account named "Yemeni international leading company Investment» A company launched by the Houthis at the end of January and tried to force merchants and companies to subscribe.

According to information posted on the website of the pro-Houthi Ministry of Industry and Trade, the new company, the "Yemeni International Company for Strategic Project Investments", was established as a Yemeni joint stock company, with an estimated capital of 100 billion Yemeni.

The purposes of the company, according to information: the establishment of renewable energy plants and waste power plants, the construction of automobile assembly factories, machinery and equipment, the establishment of metallurgical industries and construction materials factories, silos and mills, oil derivatives and gas reservoirs and refineries, Commercial and Islamic banks, mobile communications projects and fourth generation.

The Houthis ' pressure on the merchants to force them to finance the new company, or to supply the value of the goods imported in cash to the banks of Sanaa, demanded that traders first restore the frozen sums in the central bank of Sana'a and commercial banks since early 2016.

With the rise of pressure from the Houthis, traders turned to the United Nations Office in the Yemeni capital, where, in early April, they submitted to the Humanitarian coordinator of the UN office in Yemen, Lisa Grandi, a complaint about the extortion they are being subjected to by the al-Houthi group.

Traders said in their complaint that commercial activity is threatened by extortion by the Houthi authorities and that they impose illegal tax and customs duties on merchant shipments, according to commercial sources.

While the Houthi authorities resorted to commercial terrorism, the pro-government foreign payments and Exchange Commission, in early September, warned merchants to deal with the central bank of Aden and threatened to impose fines on violators who would prove their dealings with the Cabinet, and pledged to provide hard currency to cover the import bill, according to a statement published by the Yemeni news agency in its controlled version.

Merchants in the capital, Sana'a, accuse the Houthi rebel group of standing behind the rise of goods from food and medicine by imposing additional customs duties on merchants ' goods coming from Aden and Marib, despite the payment of fees in the port of Aden and other outlets in the areas of control of the legitimate government.

The Industrial Chamber of Commerce, Amanat Sanaa, said Thursday that it had submitted an official memorandum to the leadership of the customs authority loyal to the Houthis, including a complaint about the repercussions of the measures imposed by the interest and suffered by traders, foremost of which are double customs, and the imposition of illegal fees.

In a statement, the chamber called on al-Houthi authorities to remove impediments to the commercial sector and to desist from practices that hinder the flow of goods from food and medicine to markets and lead to higher prices.

According to the statement, the Houthi authorities are forcing merchants to pay customs duties for goods paid in the ports of Aden, Al-Mukalla and land outlets such as Wadi’ah (east of the country), Shehn and Nashtoon (south-east), and the resulting seizure of goods of merchants and raw materials for the industry on the pretext of bringing the statement Of the Customs of origin and the consequent onerous financial difficulties and liabilities.


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