August 03, 2020

PNGO Zoom Dialogue Session: Demanding A Review of Palestinian Economic and Financial Policies to cope with the Coronavirus Challenges

PNGO Zoom Dialogue Session:  Demanding A Review of Palestinian Economic and Financial Policies to cope with the Coronavirus Challenges

Dr. Abdel-Karim’s Naser, university academic and economy expert, called to review all the economic and financial policies of the Palestinian Authority, including tax, revenues, spending, import, export, and salary plans, which can be reduced by 30 percent in addition to other plans to face the challenges emerging from the Coronavirus calamity.

Dr. Abdel-Karim stressed the necessity for the Palestinians and their leaders to think strategically and to take decisive decisions, especially that, according to him, there were not any well-planned ideas after the “the Tunnel riots” in 1996. He considered that there must be an economic project that contributes to national liberation and not the other way around.

This came during a dialogue session organized by the Palestinian Network of NGOs (PNGO), entitled “The Economic repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic” within the project of strengthening democracy and building NGOs’ capacity in Palestine. The project was implemented in partnership with Norwegian People’s Aid. (NPA)

The slogan of detachment from the Israeli occupation and its economy, Dr. Abdel-Karim described, is a “political slogan”, and there are no attempts to disengage, even after the decisions of the Central Council in 2015 saw the light and the resulting decisions of the National Assembly and Council.

Furthermore, Abdel-Karim praised the steps taken by the Palestinian government to confront the spread of the Coronavirus in Palestine, while calling on the government to form its economical priorities’ list in a fast and correct manner, and to take serious steps in course of implementing it.

He was also startled when witnessing the slow work of “Waqft Ezz” fund, and the lack of contributions raised so far, which amounted to about nine million dollars, knowing that the expectations were up to ten times that amount.

He said that there are about 22,000 millionaires inside Palestine and that the profits of the major Palestinian companies exceeded $ 700 million in 2019. This came to ask these companies and their owners to donate to the fund, aid the poor and helpless families, and not to fail to pay the salaries of workers and employees in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Banks operating in Palestine can easily lend to the government a billion dollars, given that they have approximately 13 billion dollars in deposits and about 16 billion in assets, Abdel-Karim believed.

Moreover, he urged the government to develop plans to support citizens, especially workers who are considered a sensitive segment in society as well as small business owners. Also, he called on the government to balance the measures taken to confront the Coronavirus outbreak and to keep the citizens and the economy strong enough to withstand.

The Palestinian situation differs from the countries of the world. The presence of Israeli occupation and the emerging of new crises from of the Coronavirus catastrophe left us no energy to deal with such a complex disaster, Abdel-Karim said.

The government would need an additional 200 million dollars, even if it obtained clearing funds from Israel, international financial support, and other amounts of local revenues, to cover social, health, and other welfare expenses in light of the pandemic, he added.

Abdel-Karim warned against not providing the required funds and the appalling consequences that would have on the Palestinian people and economy, especially for workers, the poor, and vulnerable families.

Amjad Al-Shawa, the director of the of PNGO,  said at the beginning of the meeting that the Palestinian people are currently going through conditions that may be the worst on all levels, especially economic ones, pointing to the challenges imposed by confronting the Coronavirus issue represented in the stopping the work of tens of thousands of workers, whether locally or inside Israel, as well as the dismemberment of the West Bank, and the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Al-Shawa pointed out that about 130 thousand workers registered their names in the Gaza Strip, according to the Ministry of Labor, to obtain compensation instead of the damages caused to them due to the pandemic, warning against reducing international support for the Palestinian people and the effects of this on the humanitarian, economic and social conditions.

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