Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah presented on Wednesday highlights of his government’s economic reform plan in the Gaza Strip.
“We have plans ready for action,” said Hamdallah, who remained in Gaza with a group of ministers following a Cabinet session on Tuesday.
“We hope we can invest in industrial areas and gas fields,” he stated, addressing a group of Gazan businessmen.
The prime minister was referring to his intention to reproduce the experience of the West Bank in the establishment of large industrial zones, which is still in its early stages, and to start extracting gas from the natural gas field off the coast of Gaza, which was discovered in 1998.
The Authority highlighted an initial agreement with foreign companies for gas extraction, hoping that the Gaza gas field would be one of the foundations of the Palestinian economy.
In addition, Hamdallah said that his government was looking to improve the business and investment environment in Gaza, to work on the land settlement and water purification projects and to complete infrastructure and sanitation plans.
The economic file will be one of the most important issues that the Palestinian government will have to deal with, in the wake of the high rates of unemployment and poverty, and the significant and dangerous economic decline witnessed over the last period.
According to a recent study, the Gaza Strip incurred losses worth $15 billion over the past ten years.
Hamdallah stressed that his government would work to improve the economic situation, despite the decline of foreign aid by more than 70 percent, the delivery of only 35.5 percent of aid, and with many countries not fulfilling their commitments to reconstruction in Gaza.
The prime minister, however, linked the ability of his government to implement its economic plans with the agreement between Fatah and Hamas on the reconciliation files in Cairo.
“We hope that reconciliation will be a lever for our efforts in this context, which will contribute to improving our economy and the living conditions of citizens,” he said.
Two delegations from Fatah and Hamas are expected to arrive next Monday in Cairo, upon an invitation by Egyptian Intelligence Chief Khalid Fawzi.
On Tuesday, Hamdallah presided over a Cabinet meeting in the Gaza Strip, in a move towards reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas parties.