Minister: PA to Enact Minimum Wage

The Palestinian Authority is preparing to enact a law setting a minimum wage for workers in both the public and private sectors, the minister of national economy said Tuesday.

Jawad al-Naji told Ma’an that the government was planning to make the change on Oct. 10.

In line with the procedures announced by the Palestinian Authority in response to the economic crisis, al-Naji said his ministry would also seek to open markets for competition cancelling monopolies and exclusive distribution of commodities.

“I will open the market for competition and urge businesspeople to import from abroad directly instead of depending on Israeli agents. Thus, the benefits that go to Israel will help reduce prices for consumers,” he said.

Asked whether or not Israel would allow the Palestinians to import directly, the minister said the problem had always been with the merchants themselves.

“The excuse they give is that they don’t have enough cash for direct import, but when I meet them, I will tell them the market will be open for competition, and I will urge them,” he said.

No End in Sight

Commenting on the crisis, Samir Abdullah, director of the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute, said the procedures announced by the government would not put an end to the crisis.

In light of the budget deficit and rising prices, he added, “the measures may help for two months only, and unless the donor countries and the peace supporters intervene, the situation will be hard.”

Abdullah, the former minister of planning, added that opening the market for direct import from abroad would face the complications Israel lay before Palestinian business people.

“Israel makes sure Palestinian businesspeople can’t easily access international markets. They have to go through extra security procedures, and their cargo will delayed and thus they end up paying bigger costs than the Israelis.”

(Ma’an)

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