Palestinian minister returns financial benefits to PA treasury

In response to public outcry over secret pay raises, the former Minister of Finance Shukri Bishara, returned $81,600 to the Palestinian Authority

By
August 28, 2019 02:06
1 minute read.
The sign atop the Palestinian Authority police station near Ma'aleh Adumim

The sign atop the Palestinian Authority police station near Ma'aleh Adumim . (photo credit: Courtesy)

Palestinian Authority Finance Minister Shukri Bishara has returned $81,600 to the PA, after a public outcry over secret pay raises to members of the former government.
 
The unprecedented move followed PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s recent decision requiring former PA prime minister Rami Hamdallah and members of his government to return bonuses and other financial benefits, the PA’s official news agency Wafa reported.


Bishara is the first minister to return the payments to the PA, and other ministers have promised to follow suit in the coming days, Wafa added.
Documents leaked on social media in recent months showed that in 2017, Abbas approved a 67% pay raise for the ministers of the previous government. According to the documents, the salaries of the ministers jumped from $3,000 to $5,000, while the salary of Hamdallah was raised to $6,000.


Although Abbas’s decision to raise the salaries was taken in 2017, the Hamdallah government implemented it retroactively to 2014.


The leaked documents drew strong condemnations from Palestinians, who accused the Palestinian leaders of squandering public money while many Palestinians are facing economic hardship.


Bishara remained in his job as finance minister after the formation of the new government headed by Mohammed Shtayyeh earlier this year.


Senior Fatah official Sarhan Dweikat called for firing Bishara, holding him responsible for facilitating the payments to the members of the former government.


Dweikat told the Palestinian online newspaper Al-Watan Voice on Tuesday that Bishara had implemented Abbas’s 2017 decision retroactively to 2014, allowing ministers an extra bonus of tens of thousands of dollars.


The Fatah official said that Bishara should be questioned by the PA’s Anti-Corruption Commission and put on trial now that he has returned the funds to the PA treasury.


Many Palestinian social media users said that Bishara’s decision to return the large sum was a sign of financial corruption among the top brass of the PA.


“This means that each minister received up to $81,000 in bonuses and other benefits on top of their salaries,” one Palestinian pointed out. “Now they are returning the money, but no one is holding them to account or asking questions. Why not set up a commission of inquiry into this scandal?”


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