Hamas ups 2012 Gaza budget by 22 percent to $769 million

GAZA CITY: The Gaza Strip's Hamas government has drafted a 2012 budget of $769 million (575 million euros), an increase of 22 percent from 2011, the Islamist movement said on Sunday.

In a statement published in its Al-Rai newspaper, it said it expected spending in 2012 to "amount to 769 million dollars against 630 million for 2011."

The figure includes "$405 million for salaries, compared to 298 million in the budget last year," Ismail Mahfuz of the Hamas finance ministry said.

Main areas of expenditure are "security, public order, social services and education, which represent around 62 percent of the total budget," the statement added. Mahfuz estimated tax revenues of $174 million for the coming year.

Hamas media centre spokesman Hassan Abu Hashish said the provision of services would depend on aid from Arab and Islamic countries and institutions, without specifying which ones.

The salaries of about 30,000 civil servants paid by Hamas are often deposited late due to lack of funds, he said.

The militant Hamas, classified as a terrorist organisation by the United States and Europe, won legislative elections in 2006, prompting long-standing tensions with chief rival party Fatah to boil over into violence a year later.

Hamas fighters in Gaza routed their Fatah counterparts in bloody fighting in 2007 and have been firmly in charge of the coastal territory ever since.

Representatives of the rival sides met Sunday in Gaza in a bid to push ahead a stalled reconciliation deal after a meeting between Palestinian president and Fatah head Mahmud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Cairo last month.





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