Government says pay cut to Gaza employees is only temporary

RAMALLAH, � The Palestinian government said on Tuesday that the cut in pay to civil servants in the Gaza Strip is a temporary measure and will be reimbursed once the budget allows that and when Hamas accepts President Mahmoud Abbas’ initiative.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting held in Ramallah, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah dismissed reports prompted by the cut in salary that his government has given up on Gaza, stressing that he is doing all he can to have enough money to reimburse the employees whose salaries were slashed this month.

Gaza’s public servants received a 30 per cent cut in salary this month as a result of what the government said were financial difficulties and Hamas control over Gaza.

Hamdallah said his government is ready to run Gaza affairs once Hamas dissolves a committee it had established to run Gaza, allows former government employees to return to their work, turn over the crossings and ministries to the Palestinian Authority and allow the government to work freely in the Gaza Strip.

Hamdallah lashed out at those who said his government did not carry out its duties toward the Gaza Strip, accusing them of misleading and lying to the public.

He said while the government holds Israel responsible for the grave problems facing the Gaza Strip, Hamas also bears part of the blame when it created a de facto government in Gaza after its takeover in 2007 and imposed its own system for collecting money to benefit its own treasury.

The prime minister accused Hamas of obstructing government projects in the Gaza Strip, including a desalination plant that is supposed to be built in Gaza on land Hamas still refuses to turn it over to the project. The plant is supposed to solve Gaza severe water problem for the next 30 years.

He said that while the government has improved tax collection methods in the West Bank in recent years to bring it up to 21 per cent of the domestic revenues and reach a little less than $100 million a month, the total in revenues it was able to generate from the Gaza Strip was around $3 million a month.

At the same time, the government had spent on Gaza since the Hamas takeover $17 billion and it had continued to pay salaries of 24,500 civil servants and 34,000 security officers and some are still receiving a salary even though they have left the Strip and receive financial support from their new host country.

We did all this in spite of Hamas taking all the revenues generated in the Gaza Strip and the shortage we are facing in foreign aid, he said.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency

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