Friday, November 22, 2019

Palestine’s socio-economic situation continues to deteriorate


By F.F. Dawkins - September 17, 2019
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [economy]

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), released a new report on Tuesday 10 September, in Ramallah, warning of a forthcoming disastrous development of Palestine's economy.

The report unveils that the Palestinian economy stagnated, while the unemployment rate kept on rising compared to 2018. The UNCTAD states that the slowdown of the Palestinian economy can be explained by “decrease in donor support, contraction of the public sector and deterioration of the security environment, which discouraged private sector activities”.

Furthermore, the report claims that the ongoing military occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza strip has led to an economic development which is driven by non-tradeable goods such as construction, wholesale as well as retail and services.

Mahmoud Elkhafif, A coordinator of UNCTAD, said in an interview, “some of the donor states have decreased their contributions to the PA, while Israel has implemented Paris Protocols in such a way that has put the Palestinian leadership under pressure and forced it to shrink its budget”. 

Elkhafif further added that military checkpoints in the West Bank are preventing the free flow of goods and people, undermining economic development.

While the situation in the West Bank is bad, according to the report, Gaza’s economy is doing even worse. With an unemployment rate above 50 per cent, a poverty level of 53 per cent and a decline of 10 per cent in its per capita income, Gaza is becoming increasingly unliveable.

Elkhafif commented that “[the economic blockade of the Gaza strip] prevents raw materials from entering Gaza, while destroying its infrastructure, as well as its ability to conduct internal or external trade”.

Furthermore, Israeli policies, such as the withholding of funds to the PA in the amount equivalent to the sum the PA pays towards imprisoned Palestinians and their relatives, as well as to families of those killed by Israeli forces, is limiting the scope of action of the PA.       

Abdul Rahman Al-Azmi explained that the Palestinian economy is “truly collapsing after about 65 per cent of PA revenues are put on hold, economic movement paralysed, and purchasing power being depressed by 50 per cent.”

As a consequence of this withholding of PA revenues, which amount 11.5 million dollars a month, the PA has been forced to cut staff members salaries.

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