PA finance minister resigns, sources say
Published Saturday 02/03/2013 (updated) 03/03/2013 18:31
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority Minister of Finance Nabil Qassis resigned on Saturday, informed sources told Ma'an.
Qassis submitted his official resignation to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who accepted his decision.
The PA finance minister decided to leave office following a wave of criticism by trade unions after remarks calling for a reduction in public sector bonuses if the financial crisis continued, official sources said.
President Abbas, however, has rejected the resignation, secretary-general of the president's office At-Tayyib Abdul-Rahim told Ma'an, adding that he will meet with Qassis on Sunday to discuss the matter further.
In February, Qassis announced a draft budget plan containing a number of measures to try to reduce the PA's budget deficit and increase revenues.
The PA ministry of finance has come under increased pressure in recent months, with PA employees, health workers and teachers all launching strike action in protest against the late payment of salaries.
Full salaries for public sector workers have not been paid in almost five months and government initiatives to increase revenue by collecting years worth of electricity and water bills from the public have been hampered by street protests.
In December, Israel began withholding $100 million it collects in duties every month for the PA, exacerbating a financial crisis and undermining the PA's ability to pay public sector salaries.
Nabil Qassis replaced Salam Fayyad as finance minister in May 2012 in a government reshuffle ordered by President Mahmoud Abbas.
A former president of Birzeit University and independent political figure, Qassis is a trained nuclear physicist and was a member of the Madrid Peace Delegation in 1991.