RAMALLAH, Monday, April 13, 2020 (WAFA) – Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh Monday evening announced that the Palestinian economy will suffer from stagnation and recession following the coronavirus crisis, but recovery is likely within 12 months.
Speaking at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Ramallah, Shtayyeh announced that the novel coronavirus crisis would plunge the global economy into stagnation and recession, and cause Palestinian economic growth rates to largely decline.
He commented on the government’s efforts to bring down the budget deficit, which has increased to USD $1.4 billion.
“We have started to perform under an austerity emergency budget, with a deficit of $1.4 billion. We will attempt to cover some of the budget deficit using various means, whether by reducing expenditures, applying for bank loans, or requesting financial aid from regular donor countries,” he elaborated.
“We have also approached the Israeli side with a request to resolve some tax settlement issues related to the withheld tax revenues,” he added.
Nevertheless, Shtayyeh seemed optimistic when he said that the Palestinian economy would be able to recover within a maximum period of 12 months.
He pointed out that the set of precautionary measures adopted following the coronavirus outbreak would remain in place, though with a partial relax on Fridays.
He was optimistic about the health condition of all COVID-19 patients in the Palestinian territories, whose conditions are between light to moderate, with no need to connect anyone to the ventilator.
Touching upon the government efforts to secure support to the Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem in light of the coronavirus public health emergency, he pointed out the government, with support from the European Union, will transfer USD $9.5 million in projects besides to $16 million to the hospitals.
He added that the government set up an initial $300 million fund as part of an economic recovery plan for micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises which are the most affected by the coronavirus crisis with support from Arab and Islamic funds.
He said that the government would offer urgent financial aid to some 30,000 Palestinian workers who lost their jobs following the coronavirus outbreak, besides to ILS 137 million ($38,360,000) in social allowances payments to additional 116,000 families, including 81,000 families in the besieged Gaza Strip.
He noted that the government was making contacts with the Israeli side to ensure that some 19,000 workers in Israel are tested for coronavirus before they return home.
He assured Palestinian citizens about the flow of goods, foodstuff and agricultural products across border crossings, from Israel and between the various Palestinian districts.