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PNI calls for 'radical change' in economic policy

Sept. 7, 2012 4:38 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 8, 2012 4:20 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian National Initiative on Friday declared its support for protests against rising costs of living in the West Bank, and called for a "radical change" in economic policy.

The party said young Palestinians were paying the price for the Oslo Accords with Israel, which established the Palestinian Authority. The agreement transferred the cost of Israel's occupation to the Palestinian people, PNI said in a statement.

Protesters across the West Bank have called for the cancellation of the economic annexes of the accords, outlined in the Paris Protocol, on the grounds they have mostly benefited Israel while making the Palestinian economy dependent on Israel's economy.

PNI called for "a radical change in the economic policy of the Palestinian government, and not just cosmetic changes or encounters to absorb the popular indignation."

The Palestinian economy should support the resolve of the people and their survival, rather than burdening them with debts and loans as unemployment, poverty and prices rise, PNI said.

The party called for a local, regional and international campaign to cancel the Paris Protocol, and said Israeli produce must be boycotted and replaced with Palestinian goods.

It called for VAT and agricultural taxes to be abolished, and said the increase in fuel tax should be written off. The budget should be redistributed to support agriculture, health, education, and social sectors, PNI said,

Salaries must be paid on time and a minimum wage implemented, the party added.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been the focus of protests across the West Bank, although the former finance minister had no part in the Paris Protocol.

Fayyad said that the Palestinian Authority was subsidizing fuel price rises, but warned that if the government canceled the increase it would not be able to pay salaries.

Government employees have not received their August salaries yet, and Fayyad said he did not know when wages would be paid as the PA was waiting for donor funds to arrive.

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