Palestinian Authority sells off assets to make payroll

Special to World
Wednesday, February 11, 2004

RAMALLAH The Palestinian Authority has begun to sell assets to pay salaries to employees.

Palestinian officials said the PA sold its share in the Palestinian cellular phone company Jawal. The PA sold its 35 percent in Jawal for $42 million to pay salaries of PA employees.

Officials said the PA sold its stake in Jawal to PalTel. PalTel already owns 65 percent of Jawal shares.

PA Communications Minister Azzam Ahmed said the sale was approved by Finance Minister Salam Fayyad. Fayyad is meant to supervise all of the business activities of the PA.

"The transaction was carried out because of the financial difficulties of the authority and if it had not been done we would not have been able to pay the salaries of our employees last month," Ahmed said.

In January, PA officials warned that the Finance Ministry was broke and would not be able to pay salaries for February. Officials said the international community has been slow in fulfilling pledges to donate money to the PA amid concerns of a lack of transparency in accounting.

The lack of transparency has also blocked foreign investment in the PA. Azzam said the PA has failed to attract an Arab or Western investor in the Palestinian cellular phone market.

In January, the Palestinian Legislative Council passed a PA budget for 2004 with a forecast deficit of $890 million.

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