Hamas begins paying late salaries in Gaza to around 50,000 workers: Ministry

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Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip have begun distributing June salaries to around 50,000 public sector workers who had not been paid for almost three weeks, the local finance ministry said on Wednesday.

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A delay in a monthly payroll grant from Qatar, a crucial aid donor to the impoverished Gaza enclave, a drop in tax revenue, and a jump in spending were to blame for the crisis, according to the Hamas-run ministry of finance.

Salama Marouf, chairman of the Hamas government media office, said the reception of nearly half of the Qatari $5-million monthly payroll grant and a loan from a Gaza local bank facilitated payment of wages on Wednesday, adding that the financial crisis persisted.

Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents live in poverty, and the economy is dependent on foreign aid. Qatar has paid hundreds of millions of dollars since 2014 for construction projects. It currently pays $30 million per month in stipends for families, fuel for electricity, and to help pay public sector wages.

The payroll costs Hamas $34.5 million (125 million shekels) per month.

Gaza has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007 when Hamas, which opposes peace with Israel, took control.

Public sector employees have not received full salaries since 2013.

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