EU to pay Palestinian authority wages
21.08.08 @ 09:28
The European Union has announced it will boost its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority by €40 million in a bid to secure salaries for government workers.
"This extra package is a clear indication that we are continuing and reinforcing our commitment to the Palestinian people," EU's external affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner said in a statement on Wednesday (20 August).
The financial injection comes on top of €256 million provided so far by the EU this year by other instruments. It follows an international conference last December where various donors pledged €5.2 billion in aid to the Palestinians over three years.
But most of the package was earmarked for long-term projects while many Arab donors have not met their commitments, leaving the Palestinian government struggling to pay public employees over recent months.
"The situation is very, very tight, for sure," a top official from prime minister Salam Fayyad's office said this week, according to Reuters.
The Palestinian Authority employs some 160,000 public servants and their salaries cost €82 million monthly - covered by foreign aid.
While part of the EU cash should be spent on salaries, pensions, social aid to the poorest families and fuel for Gaza's electricity power plant, part of it has already been earmarked for priority projects such as the construction of new security forces headquarters in Nablus.
"I hope that other donors will continue to make every effort to fulfill their pledges or even go beyond, as we do today. If not, the situation of the Palestinian Authority will continue to be precarious," commissioner Ferrero Waldner commented.
The EU, as the biggest donor to the Palestinians, pledged €440 million at last year's conference and Wednesday's extra cash comes on top of that sum.