Palestinians welcome Ramadan with empty pockets
Thursday, 19 July 2012 14:59 GMT
Palaestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Ramallah – Sona AdeekThis week the Muslim world is preparing for the holy Month of Ramadan, a time when Muslims across the world fast for 30 days during the hours of daylight. But Palestinians are complaining of the rising cost of food and basic goods in the Palestinian territories, where prices have doubled in the lead up to the Islamic holy month.
With its population, the Palestinian Authority is facing a similar financial crisis of its own, according to comments made by President Mahmoud Abbas. The President recently announced that a “real financial danger” is facing the PA, which this month was forced to pay the salaries of only 60 % of employees a week later than scheduled, and the remaining employees one day before Ramadan. The Palestinian Authority says it will pay the reminder of salaries after a cash boost from Saudi Arabia, which has promised to transfer one hundred million dollars into the treasury of the Palestinian Authority upon President Abbas’s visit to Riyadh this month.
However despite the donation, Palestinian Finance Minister Dr Nabil Kassis, says the Saudi donation will not solve the crisis of salaries next month and will only cover the salaries for the rest of this month. The rest will be spent on the civil and private sector.
Arabstoday asked a number of Palestinians what they thought of the dire economic situation.
A young man named Jihad Ahmad from Jenin city said: “There must be control over goods in the Palestinian market… citizens must reduce expenses to overcome the financial crisis that could worsen next month. The Palestinian Authority may not be able to pay salaries to employees.”
Mohammed Amin, who works as a teacher at the Ministry of Education, also gave his opinion: “We do not know how long we will stay in this situation. Every year, just before the holy month of Ramadan, or after the holy month of Ramadan, the financial crisis begins and the Palestinian government says the same thing. Every year there is a rise in prices and a delay in salary payment. The government does not care about the cost of living for employees, especially during this holy month when it most important.”
Najwa Mohammed, who works in a private communications company, told Arabstoday: “As a private company, we are also affected by the financial crisis faced by the Authority. The majority of the Palestinian people depend on their salaries,” adding, “there must be legislation to force traders to set fixed prices, as well as prevent them from entering Israeli goods into Palestinian cities.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Economy has announced a plan to control the Palestinian market by preventing the smuggling of goods from settlements into Palestinian towns.
Abdul Aziz Nofal, the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, told Arabstoday that the ministry monitors the Palestinian markets, especially the quality and shelf life of commodities and the continuing flow of the Palestinian market at reasonable prices. He indicated that the Consumer Protection Association is working to provide some guidelines to educate the consumer by giving advice on budgeting and avoiding extravagance.
Nofal said: “The ministry announced a plan to prevent the smuggling of settlements’ goods into Palestinian cities during the month of Ramadan. We will not leave our markets to be exploited by certain groups to take advantage of the demand for goods during Ramadan and to allow them to trade in the production of the settlements which are like a cancer in our stolen land.”