The revival of the Supreme Economic Council (and its control over oil revenues) is part of renewed efforts to implement the Riyadh agreement
Yemen's PM sidelines ex-central bank governor Hafiz Muayad and revives pre-war economic council
A fierce conflict between two powerful leaders in Yemen’s internationally recognized government over control of the country’s economic levers has come to a head.
Yemen’s Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, who heads the Supreme Economic Council (SEC), which managed all of Yemen’s economic affairs before the war started in 2015, appears to have dealt a significant blow to Hafez Muayad, the former governor of the Central Bank of Yemen and current chairman of a wartime institution known as the Economic Committee (EC).
At a meeting on Tuesday in the interim capital Aden, Saeed transferred the EC’s technical team in charge of regulating the import and export of oil derivatives to the SEC. The move marks a revival of the SEC, which fell to the wayside in recent years. The EC, which has sparred publicly with the Houthis over oil import revenues, was formed in August 2018 to manage the economy and support relevant ministries in response to the severe deterioration of the economic situation.
The resumption of SEC meetings is part of the Saudi-brokered Riyadh agreement aimed at creating a national unity government in Aden to prevent the type of clashes that broke out between forces loyal to the pro-secession Southern Transitional Council and the government army in August.
At the Tuesday meeting, the ministers of oil, minerals, finance, planning and international cooperation were tasked with studying and reviewing the mechanisms for importing oil derivatives into Yemen and submitting those proposals to the SEC for implementation.
The SEC also instructed the oil and finance ministries to take the necessary measures to complete the financing of the final stages of the refinery's power plant, which the EC had overseen, and set a timetable to start revenue-generating operations at the refinery.
A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, criticized the transfer of the EC's technical team, led by Faris Al Ja'adi, to the SEC. He argued that the prime minister should have instead restructured the SEC general secretary to include additional economic expertise in non-oil sectors to deal with issues like currency rates, taxes and tariffs, state revenues, debt, investments and expenditures. The official also said the prime minister should include the Ministries of Telecommunications, Fisheries and Agriculture in the SEC, given how much revenue they generate.