EU-Funded Phantom Salaries Scandal in Gaza

Written by | Thursday, December 12th, 2013

The European Union has stopped to pay salaries of Palestinian civil servants after it had been slammed by auditors yesterday for funding employees who do not work. The EU28 that is Gaza’s main donor of development assistance covers about a fifth of the salaries of civil workers, teachers, doctors and public servants in the Strip of Gaza. Yet, the European Court of Auditors investigated how EU money is being spent, and found a substantial number of phantom pay rolls.
Although the auditors do not have exact figures on how extensive the problem is, during one random check at the National Audit Institute of Palestine, 90 out of 125 employees paid by the EU said they did not really work. In another cohort, about 40 percent of workers did not work.
The investigation of European auditors lasted for more than a year and a half and scrutinized spending of about a billion euro that reached Gaza between 2008 and 2012. The main outcome of the audit is the recommendation of auditors to stop the employment program in Gaza. In the opinion of EU auditor Hans Gustaf Wessberg, the EU is not really contributing to one of its main objectives in Gaza, that is support the public sector and service, hence he recommends to send the money to the West Bank instead.
Although auditors were not able to establish what happened to 90 million euro that were supposed to cover fuel taxes and the maintenance of Gaza’s only power plant, they denied that the money would reach former militants or prisoners and blamed the missing cash on the Fatah Party of President Mahmoud Abbas.
Brussels’ response to the issue of missing workers has been vague so far claiming that many people were prevented from working in Gaza due to fragile security situation. Yet, the EU thinks that the money should reach Gaza in any case because workers without income are an easy prey of extremists.

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