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Sunday April 18, 2010 8:23 AM (EST+7)
Gaza tax crackdown drives dissent

Read more: taxes, Hamas government, governance, budget, economics

RAMALLAH, April 18 (JMCC) - Faced with empty coffers, the Hamas government in Gaza is being forced to tax shopkeepers and business owners. But the added economic pressure on small businesses is creating a ripple of discontent, reports The National.

“We have no water, no electricity, no medicine. The roads are not repaired, there is no business,” said Mr Shawa. “Any more pressure and we will explode. To ask us to pay licences now is unreasonable.”

Such sentiments are spreading. And even if the people gathered around Mr Abdel Karim said they were “too afraid” to organise and protest the municipal decision, both the Gaza City municipality and the Gaza government will be keenly aware of the growing discontent.

“Hamas will be careful,” said Omar Shaban, an economist and head of PalThink, the Gaza-based strategic studies think tank. “I think Hamas cares enough about its reputation and is close enough to people to understand that it can only go so far in raising money from ordinary people. There will be anger, but I think Hamas will know when to stop.”

Mr Mikki was keen to emphasise that the municipality would “not force anyone to pay”, and Mr Shaban said the government would survive the financial crisis. That crisis, however, would be solved only if the Israeli blockade ended.

“The fundamental problem is not whether or not people can transfer money to Hamas. Banks are only one instrument in the siege. The fundamental problem is that there is no economic activity in Gaza and there are no jobs.”

Read the story from The National...






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