In Gaza, half salary better than nothing

14:39, July 07, 2011      

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by Saud Abu Ramadan

Standing in a long queue, puffing out smoke of a cigarette and holding in his hand an ATM card, Mohamed Abdo, a 28-year-old former military intelligence officer, waited before the Bank of Palestine in central Gaza city to receive his monthly salary.

Abdo, a father of two children, has been receiving his monthly salary fully since he got the job seven years ago. But since the Islamic Hamas movement seized control of the Gaza Strip in mid- June 2007 by force, he refrained from going to work upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' instructions.

However, he was shocked when he knew that Prime Minister of the Palestinian caretaker government Salam Fayyad decided that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) would just pay half salary to its employees in June due to a severe fiscal crisis.

"This is really unfair, 850 Shekels (some 250 U.S. dollars) only," said Abdo, "my monthly salary is 2,000 shekels, so they paid me half of it and took 150 shekels for the monthly electricity bill. I really don't know whether I can survive with this money."

Fayyad said on July 3 that the PNA will have to pay half salary to its employees in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip due to financial crisis. The veteran economist has been warning of a serious fiscal crisis due to the noncompliance of the donors, mainly the Arab countries, to their aid commitments.

The remaining cash and expenses would be paid "when the PNA gets enough revenues and resources through external aid," Fayyad told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He did not specify when the PNA is going to get more financial support.

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