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Saudi Arabia asks Hadi regime officials to leave as costs bite amid economic downturn: Report

Saudi Arabia has reportedly asked members of the regime of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi residing in the capital Riyadh to leave and suspended financial support provided to them.

The decision comes as slumping oil prices and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have saddled the kingdom with its worst financial crisis in decades.

Citing an official with the self-proclaimed Riyadh-backed Hadi government, the Arabi21 news website reported on Friday that Saudi authorities had informed officials and employees in the Yemeni presidency and the prime minister’s office, in addition to a number of ministries, about their decision.

The source, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, noted that the decision targeted officials in the presidency and cabinet, including deputy ministers, in addition to others who had arrived in Saudi Arabia earlier and were hosted in hotels for a short period before being transferred to apartments at Riyadh’s expense.

The source, however, claimed that “not all Yemeni officials and employees are accommodated at the expense of the Saudi government” and that “most of the government staff live at their own expense”.

A document issued on May 13 and circulated on social media indicated that Hadi officials and employees residing in Riyadh had been informed that the last Saudi payment would be provided at the end of May.

Whoever wants to stay or extend their residence in Riyadh after May 31 would pay their own expenses, the document read.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia announced that it will suspend the cost of living allowance and raise the value added tax threefold in a bid to boost state finances battered by the coronavirus outbreak and plummeting oil prices.

The austerity measures came after the kingdom reported a $9 billion budget deficit in the first quarter of 2020.

“These measures are painful but necessary to maintain financial end economic stability over medium to long term…and overcome the unprecedented coronavirus crisis with the least damage possible,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said in the statement.

Saudi Arabia is trying to make up the difference between lower-than-expected oil revenues and higher spending to rein in the coronavirus.

The kingdom is stuck in a costly war on Yemen it launched in March 2015 in a bid to reinstall the Hadi regime and crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.

However, over five years into the Western-sponsored war, Saudi Arabia has achieved neither of its objectives, but plunged Yemen into what the UN says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Over the past years, most members of the self-proclaimed Hadi government have been residing in Riyadh and Jeddah at the expense of the Saudi government.