Ramallah - Souna El-Deek
The Palestinian Prime Minister of the West Bank, Salam Fayyad, has said that if the financial crisis currently faced by the Palestinian Authority is not solved, then there will be difficulty in paying salaries to employees this month. If this occurred it would be a repeat of what happened last month when Fayyad claimed: "We found ourselves forced to pay half salaries only."
Fayyad explained that in order to enable the Palestinian Authority to deal with the current situation they would need about $300 million immediately, in order to cover the half salaries that had not been paid, and to pay contractors that had carried out projects for them, as well as hospitals and medical suppliers.
Fayyad's remarks were made during an interview with “Al-Arabiya” television on Wednesday, in which he stated that salaries are extremely important to employees, whether during Ramadan or holidays, or the beginning of the school year. He stressed that there was an urgent need for salaries to be paid regularly. Fayyad added: "What we need to do now is to solve the crisis that we are facing before the start of Ramadan. We want to complete the payment of the half salaries that we did not pay, in addition to the payment of salaries this month, and other debts to energy suppliers that have accumulated because of the severe financial crisis."
Fayyad claimed that one of the sources of the crisis was the lack of external funding allocated to the Palestinian Authority. He stated: "For seven or eight months the Authority has faced a shortage of external funding allocated for the support budget, including an average of $30 million per month, and this large sum which is transferred carries us from month to month."
Fayyad stressed that the Palestinian Authority continues to pursue a policy of reducing the budget deficit, and that it has renewed confidence in the expectation that the government will cut foreign aid allocated to support the budget by the end of 2013. In response to a wave of strikes by staff unions, Fayyad said that the employees’ protests would not enable the Authority to meet the payment of the due salaries, stressing: "It is understandable, and the right to strike is a legitimate right guaranteed by Palestinian law and regulations...and it does not detract from the patriotism of our employees."