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Official: PA refusing to transfer Gaza power funds

July 17, 2011 9:45 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2011 12:55 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The sole operating power plant in the Gaza Strip is having a difficult time collecting revenue as the finance ministry in Ramallah is refusing to transfer funds, an official in Gaza said Sunday.

Head of the energy authority Kanan Ubeid said "we have a deficit of 50 percent from the total procurement [of funds] via various sources, either through loss or failure of residents to pay."

The crisis stems from collecting electricity revenues from the salaries of government employees because the finance ministry in Ramallah is refusing to transfer the revenues to the electricity company, he said.

The authority has managed to collect about 30 million shekels but is owed 60 million, he said.

Last summer a severe crisis occurred due to the high price of diesel in addition to Ramallah's disorganized transfer of funds. This left the energy authority no option but to smuggle fuel from Egypt, Ubeid said.

"We stored diesel in the spring, which enabled" higher production this summer, he said.

Now, the authority will cut power twice every other day for eight hours at a time. That means every other day Gaza will enjoy 24 hours of electricity as opposed to last summer, when people put up with daily blackouts.
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