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Hamas demands permanent fuel tax exemption for Gaza's power

April 1, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Hamas movement said that exempting the Gaza power station’s fuel from taxes by the Palestinian Authority (PA) unity government for a period of three months is not a “sufficient decision,” claiming to gain a ‘permanently exemption’.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Tuesday evening in a statement, received by the Anadolu agency, that ‘the PA unity government is demanded to cancel the taxes on Gaza power station’s fuel permanently’. He noted that the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had also promised to take a final decision on the power station fuel’s taxes.

On Wednesday, Hamdallah agreed with Hamas to form a joint committee to discuss Gaza’s problems and their proper solutions, particularly with regard to the crisis of the former government’s employees, the electricity cut off, the reconstruction file and handing over the sector’s crossings to the Palestinian Authority.

On its part, the Palestinian Energy Authority in Gaza Strip announced on Thursday evening that a “limited improvement” will be shown in providing the electricity to the Sector at the beginning of next week, as a result of the unity government’s decision to exempt the power station’s fuel of taxes.

Deputy chief of the Energy Authority Fathi El-Sheikh Khalil told Anadolu that “limited improvement will occur on the hours of providing electricity to the Gaza Strip provinces early next week, where the power will be connected for 8 hours followed by 8 hours cut (instead of 4 hours connected followed by 12 hours cut). “

In a press statement, following its weekly meeting on Tuesday in Ramallah, the PA unity government announced exempting the Gaza power station’s fuel from so called ‘blue taxes’ for a period of three months. The government said that the exemption decision comes to alleviate the problem of power cut, as a prelude to resolve the electricity issue completely.

The Deputy Head of the Political Bureau of the Movement Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh has declared last Friday that Israel had agreed to extend a power plant in the midfield of the sector, to provide with gas through funding from Qatar.

On 5 March, the Gaza Power Station (GPS) stopped working completely after the running out of the fuel needed to operate it. The Energy Authority in the Gaza Strip said in a statement, that they were unable to buy fuel for the power station because of the taxes imposed by the unity government which increased the fuel prices up to 137% of the original price.

For 8 years, the Gaza Strip has been suffering from a large electricity crisis following Israel’s bombing of the only power station in the sector in mid-2006, thus pushing the population to live according to a daily distribution table including 6 hours of electricity connection and 12 hours of electricity cut. It currently requires about 360 megawatts of electricity to meet the needs of the 1.8 million people living in Gaza, but they are currently being forced to survive on only 200 megawatts instead.

The Gaza Strip currently gets the electricity current from three sources: the first is Israel, which supplies the sector with 120 megawatts; the second is Egypt, which provides the Sector with 28 megawatts, while the power station in Gaza produces between 40 to 60 megawatts.