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PA: Austerity measures to continue

March 19, 2012 2:48 A.M. (Updated: March 20, 2012 12:23 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Authority will continue with its austerity plan in order to reduce the ongoing financial crisis, an official said Monday.

"Austerity measures will continue, and if donor countries will not fulfill their pledges, the PA will take further austerity steps to try and reduce effects of the crisis," adviser to PA premier Salam Fayyad Omar al-Ghoul told Ma'an.

"If donor countries do not fulfill their financial pledges, the PA’s financial crisis and budget deficit will intensify," he added.

The budget deficit stands at is $1.1 billion, al-Ghoul said, adding that he hopes an upcoming donor meeting in Brussels will make decisions to ease the crisis.

"Civil servants’ salaries will not be disrupted at all," al-Ghoul said.

"On behalf of myself, and on behalf of the prime minister, I say that salaries will not be disrupted. In contrast, prime minister Fayyad is working toward improving salaries to cope with the high cost of living."

Part of the current crisis is due to the situation in the Gaza Strip, as 57 percent of the PA's budget goes to the coastal enclave, al-Ghoul said.

"Hamas leaders who staged the coup in Gaza are not interested in any commitment to the PA. On the contrary, the policy of dependence on smuggling tunnels in Gaza is resulting in huge cuts in revenues and taxes to the PA."
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