RAMALLAH, Tuesday, December 27, 2022 (WAFA) - Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh today expressed hope that next year will witness a breakthrough in the financial crisis that has gravely hurt the Palestinian economy and public employees.
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting held in Ramallah, the Prime Minister stressed that the year 2022 was full of pain, during which more than 220 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers, more than 9000 were wounded, 6,500 were detained, 832 buildings were demolished and 13,000 olive trees were uprooted.
Regarding the financial crises that afflicted the Palestinian economy during 2022, he said: “We faced complex crises, from which our national economy and financial budgets suffered due to the significant decline in international aid, the continuation of Israeli deductions from and the piracy of our money, and the repercussions of the coronavirus and the Ukraine war.”
Yet, he added, “we maintained a high economic growth rate, compared to many countries, as we achieved a growth of 3.6%, the level of investment increased by 15.3%, and the industry’s contribution to the gross domestic product increased to 11% while the share of agriculture rose to 6.2%.” Meanwhile, exports increased by 7.3% and imports by 16.9%.
Shtayyeh also pointed out that unemployment in the West Bank decreased from 19% when he took over the government to become 12.6% today, but it remained high in the Gaza Strip due to 16 years of tight Israeli blockade and division, where it remained at about 46.6%.
He stressed that measures have been taken to tackle inflation and provide support to prevent price rises, noting that despite the improvement in economic performance, the budget deficit remained due to the decline in international aid and the financial cuts that Israel makes from the Palestinian tax revenues, explaining that his government has rationalized expenditures to counteract this deficit.
The Prime Minister thanked the public employees for their understanding and patience after receiving 20 percent cuts in their salaries for more than a year, which he said helped and still helps in facing his government’s financial crisis.
He expressed his hope that the flow of international aid, especially aid from Arab countries, will be restored during the next year to overcome this difficult stage.
He pointed out that the private sector is playing its role in investing and creating job opportunities, and the banks are in a state of stability, which indicates the strength of the Palestinian banking sector.
“We will work on fundamental reforms in health services, education, and laws governing the economy, and will confront the occupation measures that limit our control over our national resources,” stressed the Prime Minister.
He continued: “We all know that our battle with the occupation is a political battle and that the solution to the conflict is political, not economic or otherwise.”
He affirmed that the threats of the next right-wing Israeli government dominated by racist and fascist members “will not frighten us,” stressing that the Palestinian people are capable of facing these threats, as they faced other serious plots and succeeded in protecting their national liberation project.
“The world stands with us, despite its preoccupation with emerging issues,” he stressed.