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Price Hikes Add more Misery during Eid Season
  Written By: Moneer Al-Omari (YEMEN POST STAFF)
  Article Date:
December 01
, 2008



"Everything is expensive. You could say that everything has doubled since last year. Pensioners like me could not buy all they need for Eid. My salary is just YR 30,000. I spent it all on buying a small sheep head, sweets and raisin. Now, I have no more money to buy clothes for my wife and children," said pensioner Abdul Wahed Al-Akwa'.

Al-Akwa', who was working for the Ministry of Public Works and Roads, stresses that every day passes in Yemen brings the worse for people.  

"I bought the a small sheep for YR 20,000. YR 5,000 was spent on other Eid sweets. I have only YR 5,000 left and I do not know on what to spend it. You need a lot of money for visiting your relatives and buying other commodities during Eid. Still, you need money to spend during the whole month. I do not actually know what I am going to do," he added.

What Al-Akwa' said sums the suffering of thousands of Yemeni limited-income families, especially when prices are rocketing despite the drop of prices at the international level. The price hikes, especially of Eid commodities and sacrifices, have caused pleasure and merriment of these Eids to cease, according to dozens of people.

Several interviewed citizens said that this year's Eid has turned to be a burden particularly when they have to secure enough money for covering the expenses of Eid as well as the regular and monthly expenditures.

Eid sacrifices

According to Islamic teachings, every family breadwinner should offer sacrifices from cattle during the three-first days of the blessed Al-Adha Eid. Poor people are excused if they are incapable to offer sacrifices. The name itself refers to the slaughtering of cattle (sheep, goats, camels, and cows) to get close to god.

Each family is asked to sacrifice one sheep or goat, but seven families can sacrifice one head of a cow or a camel.

The prices of cattle have increased 60 to 80 percent according to cattle traders.  During the Eid holiday, a camel was sold for YR 300,000, while an ox for YR 140,000 to 190,000 depending on the type and quality of meat. The prices of average sized sheep and goats fall between YR 40,000 to 80,000.

Most cattle and ox are imported from Somalia and Ethiopia, especially when the national production is markedly dwindling. They are also cheaper in price because rich people prefer domestic cattle and they stress that it has a better taste.

Sheep and goats imported from Somalia and the Horn of Africa are sold for YR 15,000 to 20,000, which is equal for a month-long salary received by small public servants.

Butcher Yahya Al-A'wami pointed out that few people come to him to buy meat nowadays and hinted price hikes are blamed. "In the past, people preferred cattle and cow meat to chicken. These days, the case is totally different. More people buy chicken and some cannot buy even chicken."

He added that every seven breadwinners bought an ox, while in the past families preferred to buy sheep or goats, which have better and more tender meat. 

Price hikes

Governmental employee Ali Al-Raymi told the Yemen Post that he decided to buy nothing for Eid, simply because his salary could not cover his monthly expenses, let alone Eid expenses.

"I will go to my family and children with open hands. I do not have enough money to buy what my children and wife need.  I will only buy my children cheap and useless Chinese cloths because I cannot approach the expensive shops," said Al-Raymi.

Al-Raymi adds the fact that there is no bonus or extra salary this Eid (for the last two years, Yemeni government used to pay public servant one extra salary or a bonus of YR 20,000 by the end of Ramadan).

"The bonus, equal to my salary, helped me a lot last Eid, because I managed to buy clothes, raisin and partly a head of sheep for my four-member family. It was quite enough to please them," he said.

In an effort to lessen the suffering of poor families, charitable societies launch several project, most of them regular, for providing clothes, meat and gifts. However, these societies are incapable to meet the demands of poor people nationwide who make up over 40 percent of Yemen's population estimated to be 21 million.