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PA allots tax revenues to Gaza to ease cash crisis

Jan. 5, 2012 1:09 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 7, 2012 1:27 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel amounting to 150 million shekels ($39 million) will be transferred to Gaza upon their release in the next 24 hours, the head of the Palestinian Monetary Authority said on Thursday.

The cash injection is intended to solve a critical shortage of currency in the blockaded Gaza Strip, PMA Governor Jihad al-Wazir said at an address to business students at the Islamic University in Gaza City.

International money transfer service Western Union has stopped its service to many currency exchange stores in the coastal enclave over concerns about money laundering, al-Wazir said.

While the currency centers were able to use Money Gram and Money Express, the PMA was working to resolve the Western Union shutdown as soon as possible, he added.

A shortage of currency has held up payment of public sector employees' wages in recent months, and al-Wazir said the deficit of shekels was increasing the price of the dollar in the coastal strip, which has been under a stringent Israeli blockade since 2007.

Transferring currency to the Gaza Strip requires coordination with the Israeli military authorities.

In 2010, Hamas security forces were reported to have seized $400,000 from a bank in Gaza after the Palestinian Authority froze transfers due to regulatory concerns and accusations of money laundering.
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