Are Palestinian Authority ministers receiving full salaries despite financial crisis?

Multiple sources have stated that ministers have been receiving full salaries in addition to other financial benefits at a time when the PA government says that it is suffering financially.

 Palestinian Authority public servants wait to receive their salaries via an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a bank, in Tubas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 3, 2020.  (photo credit: REUTERS/RANEEN SAWAFTA)
Palestinian Authority public servants wait to receive their salaries via an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a bank, in Tubas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 3, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/RANEEN SAWAFTA)

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Finance said over the weekend that Palestinian cabinet ministers receive only 80% of their salaries like the rest of the PA’s civil servants.

The announcement came in response to reports in a number of media outlets claiming that the ministers have been receiving full salaries, in addition to bonuses and other financial benefits, at a time when the PA government says it is suffering from a severe financial crisis.

The ministry said the ministers’ salaries are paid in accordance with a 2004 law at a rate of $3,000 per month. The payments are not linked to the cost of living, and there has been no increase in their salaries since 1994.

It also revealed that ministers are also entitled upon their appointment to a one-time payment of $15,000 to improve their living conditions. This payment, however, has not been disbursed to any of the ministers in the current government.

The ministry clarified that any other benefits received by ministers, governors or heads of security services are paid in accordance with the provisions of the applicable financial system.

A Palestinian Authority employee holds a sign that reads ''Salary is a red line. Hamdallah (Palestinian PM), leave'' during a protest against what the employees say are deductions on their salaries, in Gaza City April 8, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)A Palestinian Authority employee holds a sign that reads ''Salary is a red line. Hamdallah (Palestinian PM), leave'' during a protest against what the employees say are deductions on their salaries, in Gaza City April 8, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

Backlash against Ministry of Finance statement

In response, The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN), a Palestinian civil society group that seeks to combat corruption and promote integrity, transparency and accountability in Palestinian society, pointed out that the statement issued by the Ministry of Finance on the monthly payments to the ministers neither confirms nor denies the reports about the monthly salaries and benefits.

“The Ministry of Finance statement does not state the amounts and financial benefits it mentions,” AMAN said. “This exacerbates the state of uncertainty among the Palestinian public and spreads rumors and misinformation on social media platforms, particularly against the backdrop of the financial crisis affecting the Palestinian Authority.”

The group said that it will follow up on this issue with official bodies to uncover the truth about what is going on

“Expressing a clear position, AMAN has always called for compliance with the law,” it added. “Any changes beyond the scope of law are deemed to be violations, which the government is liable for. AMAN calls on the Prime Minister to clearly and transparently announce the true payments amounts.”

According to the reports, each minister receives a salary of $3,000 and an additional $2,000 for expenses a few days later.

In 2019, a leaked document revealed that the former PA government headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had raised the monthly salaries of the ministers from $3,000 to $5,000, and the Prime Minister’s to $6,000.

The revelation sparked a public outcry, forcing PA President Mahmoud Abbas to instruct the prime minister and members of his government to return bonuses and other financial benefits.

Palestinian political analyst Jihad Harb also expressed dissatisfaction with the clarification issued by the PA Ministry of Finance. He called for the establishment of a national commission of inquiry “to clarify the truth” about the payments to the ministers.

In an article published by the Palestinian Wattan news website, Harb wrote: “In my opinion, ending the repeated attempts to circumvent the law with regards to the salaries and privileges of the ministers, and refuting rumors and attempts at distortion, require [the Palestinian leadership to] address the Palestinian people directly.”