The Contractors Union in Gaza has ceased work at UNRWA sites in protest against the UN body’s failure to return refunded taxes to local businesses since 2014.Contractors said there is currently an outstanding balance of $20 million due.
The Engineers Syndicate, the Coordinating Council of Private Sector Institutions and the Ministry of Works are all taking part in the strike action until a solution is agreed to the crisis.
The roots of the crisis began in 2014 when the UNRWA “stopped paying contractors the value-added tax, 17% of the contracts’ value, and asked them to collect it through the Tax Return from the Ramallah-based Ministry of Finance,” the head of the Palestinian Contractors Union in Gaza, Alaa-aldin al-Araj, told The Media Line last week.
The union said UNRWA is procrastinating in “recognising our rights, which include tax returns for agency projects.” Adding that the international body did not fairly compensate contractors for work carried out during the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the fourth such day of action against UNRWA’s refusal to pay the taxes and the “catastrophic impact” it has had on local businesses and workers. UNRWA did not reply to MEMO’s request for comment.