Let down Palestinians need $1.4 bn foreign aid to meet budget


RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories - The Palestinian Authority was on Tuesday debating a draft budget amounting to $3.9 billion (3 billion euros), of which it said $1.4 billion would have to come from foreign financing.
Prime minister Salam Fayyad lamented a lack of payment of foreign aid as he presented the 2013 draft budget to politicians and economists in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, on Monday.
"Drawing up this budget came in difficult circumstances," he said. "The principal reason for our financial crisis last year was the lack of payment of foreign financial aid that was counted on."
The draft specified the need for $1.4 billion in "external financing."
On Friday, following a three-day visit by US President Barack Obama to Jerusalem and Ramallah, a top official in Washington said the US had unblocked almost $500 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority which had been frozen by Congress for months.
And Israel is to immediately unblock revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, frozen last year in retaliation for the Palestinians winning upgraded UN status, the premier's office announced on Monday.
Total 2013 expenditure, including on development, will amount to almost $3.9 billion, the Palestinian draft budget said.
The government's recurring deficit will be just over $1 billion, and its total deficit stands at $1.4 billion.
Of $350 million to be spent on "development," $300 million will need to come from abroad, according to the draft.
The draft will be discussed on Tuesday and Wednesday in parliament, and will have to be approved by president Mahmud Abbas by March 31.
The Palestinian Authority's gross debt stands at $3.8 billion.
At an Arab League summit in Doha that began Tuesday, Qatar called for the immediate establishment of a $1 billion fund to help Palestinians in Arab east Jerusalem, and offered to contribute $250 million towards it.