Monday, January 7, 2008


What Palestinians Will Do with $7.4 Billion - 70% to Pay Public Salaries - Ilene R. Prusher
Donors met in Paris last month and awarded $7.4 billion in aid to the Palestinians over the next three years. The PA remains the largest employer in the Palestinian territories, with at least 165,000 workers; some officials say that the PA could probably function with a third of that. "The PA has already spent the retirement funds of all employees in order to keep itself going," says Bassem Hadaydeh, the spokesman of the Palestinian civil servants' union. "They're trying to retire large numbers of workers, but have no retirement funds to give them."

Samir Barghouthi, an economist who runs a Ramallah investment firm, says that of the amount of aid pledged, approximately 70% will go to public salaries. The biggest problem, he says, is the bloated PA payroll. "There are many thousands of public sector employees who are not working. Some are living in Jordan or Egypt, some work from home, some work in the private sector but still take a salary from the government. There are people who are not even showing up in work because there isn't something to do." "The Paris aid is just a mechanism to help people survive, which means after three years, when those monies are spent, we have to face the problem again," he says. "We should use this commitment to push for deep restructuring." (Christian Science Monitor)

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