PA announces, Israel confirms, release of PA tax funds to bank, salaries (to be) paid

There has been a collective holding of breath in Ramallah and the West Bank for the past 12 days, waiting to see if Palestinian Authority salaries would be paid.

They have been held up this month after the announcement of a Fatah reconciliation agreement with Hamas — considered by Israel [and the U.S., as well as other members of the Quartet, major donor countries to the Palestinian Authority] as a terrorist group.

Israel’s Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz said he would not release the money as expected because some of it could end up in the hands of Hamas.

The salaries – for between 150,000 employees in the West Bank, and an addition number of at least 30,000 paid not to work since Hamas has been in power in Gaza after its rout of Fatah/Palestinian Preventive Security Forces in mid-June 2007 — are due on the 5th of every month.

On the 4th of the month, Ramallah sources said that Israeli money would be paid — this was stated just hours after the White House announcement that President Obama would receive Prime Minister Netanyahu in the White House on May 20 (now, this coming Friday). They just didn’t say when the money would be paid, but the assumption was that it would be immediately.

U.S. Administration officials public, though even-toned, statements noting that as a new Palestinian national unity government had not been yet formed, there was no reason to withhold any money at this point.

A few days later, the Palestinian Authority [PA] Ministry of Finance called the bank in Ramallah to see if the Israeli refund payments had arrived. The answer, apparently, was “No”.

PA Prime Minister then made a series of daily statements, calling on Israel, then Arab governments who had not yet paid full amounts pledged, then on the international community to send money.

The EU immediately put money in the bank — but still the PA salaries were not paid.

The money was in the bank, but the Prime Minister and probably also the President wanted to maintain pressure on all parties…

Continue reading PA announces, Israel confirms, release of PA tax funds to bank, salaries (to be) paid

UNRWA Report Says that Palestinians still show up for work, though their salaries are mostly not paid

A new report by UNRWA (the UN Agency providing humanitarian relief for Palestinian refugees) states that “Despite the non-payment of salaries,the labour force surveys confirm that Palestinian public employees continued to turn up for work and perform their duties throughout first-half 2006.  Thus the 160,000 plus public sector employees were counted as employed during this period even though they were not fully paid…

Under normal conditions, the 160,000 plus public employees should have received a total of about USD 565.6 million in salaries during first-half 2006.  In reality, they received the equivalent of only 2.5-months’ salary — USD 235.7 million during the six-month period — less than 42 percent their due…

The most direct and immediate effect of the non-payment of salaries was the loss by one-fourth of the work force of its main source of income.  With average households of about 6.3 persons in first-half 2006, the loss of income has directly affected more than one million persons — more than one-quarter of the oPt population…

The impact of the current phase of the economic crisis has hit refugees in the oPt harder than the population at large with respect to employment and poverty. Refugees are less likely to find work than non-refugees, they are more dependent on public sector employment than nonrefugees, they are more likely to be unemployed than non-refugees and they account for a higher ratio of those living in deep poverty.”