EU must stop paying Gaza officials who don’t work, auditors say
(Reuters) - The European Union should stop funding Palestinian civil servants in the Gaza Strip because money is going to officials who do not work, European auditors said on Wednesday.
As the biggest aid donor to the Palestinian territories, EU taxpayers pay a fifth of the salaries of teachers, doctors and bureaucrats in the small coastal territory, which has been governed by the Islamist group Hamas since 2007.
But following an investigation into how EU aid is being spent, the European Court of Auditors has found that large numbers of recipients are providing no public service.
The court did not have overall figures on the size of the problem. But in one spot check, 90 of the 125 employees at the National Audit Institute of Palestine said they did not work.
In another sample, 40 percent of civil servants were not working, EU auditor Hans Gustaf Wessberg, who led the inspections over the past 16 months, told a news conference.
“Our suggestion is to discontinue the program for employees in Gaza,” said Wessberg, saying the money could go to the West Bank instead. “The payment of civil servants who do not work does not meet one of (the EU’s) main objectives to provide public services to the Palestinian people.”