Powered by WebAds

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Palestinian Authority 'teeters towards shutdown'

At al-Reuters, the inimitable Wafa Amr reports that the 'Palestinian Authority' is 'teetering towards shutdown':
Nader Khatib works as an accountant for the Hamas-led Palestinian government in the morning and moonlights as a plumber in the afternoon, fixing taps and pipes to make ends meet.

Although he has not been paid since March and has little to do there, he still shows up at the Ministry of Public Works for a few hours. A government union says 60 percent of civil servants no longer turn up for work.

The wheels of the Palestinian Authority's infrastructure are grinding to a halt since Israel and the West cut assistance and tax transfers to the aid-dependant government over militant Islamist group Hamas' refusal to recognise the Jewish state.


The government has warned absent employees of penalties.

Cabinet spokesman Ghazi Hamad said workers who did not provide a good reason for their absence would face legal action.

"The government will consider the cases of those who can't afford transportation costs or because of the closures," he said, referring to Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank that can prevent workers from getting to their offices.

The crisis goes beyond the economy. The inability to pay wages and a power struggle between Hamas and Fatah have sparked fears that internal tensions could spiral out of control.

"The Authority has not collapsed yet, but if this continues for another two months, the crisis will be suffocating," said Palestinian political analyst Ali Jarbawi.

Ministries are providing fewer services. Those that do offer services have no money for basic items, like stationery. Doctors at government-run hospitals have cancelled routine operations.

"I have to work after hours just to survive," said Khatib.

Raed Hammad, another government accountant, said he struggled to find the $2 (1 pound) needed to travel from his village to his job in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority. He works in a restaurant at night.

"The Palestinian Authority is collapsing. Even if we show up at work, there's nothing for us to do. I will soon stop coming to the office," he told Reuters.



Post a Comment

<< Home