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Electricity official: Israeli tax seizure used to pay debt
Published Friday 14/12/2012 (updated) 30/12/2012 18:27
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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel's finance ministry formally transferred 435 million shekels ($111 million) from Palestinian tax revenues to pay debts to an Israeli electrical company, the Palestinian company director said Thursday.

Israel announced it was withholding tax payments after Palestine won a membership upgrade at the UN on Nov. 29, and would use them to pay off long-standing debts from the Palestinian electricity companies.

Hisham al-Umari, the director of the Palestinian Jerusalem Electricity Company, said the seized funds would pay off debts from his company, others in the north and south West Bank, as well as payments from the Gaza Strip.

In all, Palestinian providers owed the Israeli supplier around 820 million shekels, of which 500 million are his company's debt, al-Umari said.

The company paid off another 15 million shekels this week, so the outstanding debts now total 370 million shekels, he continued.

He expressed frustration that no one had been charged or penalized for non-payment of their electricity bills, after the government earlier announced a crackdown on electricity charge evasion.

Meanwhile, legal proceedings between his company and the Israeli supplier are frozen, al-Umari said.
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1 ) gabi / australia
15/12/2012 02:10
Strange commerce laws they have in Israel. Company A owes a debt to company B. So does company C. Company B collects payments on behalf of a body other than companies A and C. But company B keeps those monies as payment of the debts owed by companies A and C. In most countries that would be called stealing.

2 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
18/12/2012 21:16
@ 1), No, it's really quite simple. Company A (for example, Palestinian Jerusalem Electricity Company) owes a debt to Company B (Israel Electric Corp.) as does another Palestinian electricity distributor (Company C). Company B (Israel Electric Corp.) is our state-owned electric provider that normally would be paid by Companies A and C. So Company B (Israel Electric Corp.) normally DOES collect its electric payments owed to it by its Palestinian "customers" through Companies A and C (cont.)

3 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
18/12/2012 21:32
(or possibly directly from the Palestinian Authority itself). Since Companies A and C (Palestinian Jerusalem Electricity Company and other Palestinian electricity distributor) are behind in THEIR payments, our government (the Palestinian tax revenues collector) is now withholding Palestinian tax revenues it would normally give the PA and instead is giving them to Company B (IEC) to pay Companies A and C's debts, thereby reducing their debts to Company B. Stealing ??? ... In a sense, YES.

4 ) Filipe / Portugal
06/01/2013 02:40
The taxes collected by Israel is done on behalf of the PA. The Israel Electri company is State owned. The IEC sells electricity by contract to the PA, not to the electric companies in the WB directly. It is the PS who is ultimately responsible for the payment to the IEC-- State of Israel. The State of Israel is now forcibly tacking collective action by withholding payment to the PA. No court in the world would consider the action illegal.
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