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Fayyad signs deal for refugee camps to pay electricity costs

Dec. 30, 2012 6:30 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 4, 2013 5:21 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Palestinian Authority premier Salam Fayyad on Sunday signed a deal with representatives of refugee camps in the West Bank to start paying electricity costs.

Refugees living in the West Bank had been exempted from paying for electricity bills, and Palestinian power companies said the gap in payments was a main reason for their accumulating debts.

Israel in early December seized Palestinian tax revenues and transferred the money to the Israeli Electric Company, which supplies their Palestinian counterparts.

The loss of Israeli-collected revenues, around $100 million each month, put more pressure on the already struggling Palestinian Authority coffers, amid public sector strikes against salary delays.

The agreement signed on Sunday with the executive office for popular committees in the camps mandates electricity meters for all refugee residents.

The first 160 KW will be provided at cost price, and needy families will have their first 150 KW fully subsidized by the ministry of social affairs.

Fayyad lauded the work of the popular committees in reaching the deal, saying it achieved a balance between ending a waste of public money and maintaining social justice.

He also thanked the Palestinian electricity providers, emphasizing that the government is keen to support them in their national role in the face of Israeli threats.

In the summer, Palestinian officials said Israel was threatening to cut off power over the unpaid debts, which total around $100 million after this month's tax seizure.
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