The US Agency for International Development (USAID)’s regular budget for the West Bank and Gaza was $74.5 million in fiscal year 2003, said the US State Department. The agency has requested another $75 million for fiscal year 2004.
In response to a press query on US regular and supplemental assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) from October 2002 to the present, the State Department has provided a break down of the nation’s financing program. Assistance is provided via contractors and non-governmental organizations in the West Bank and Gaza for specifically identified projects and initiatives.
The spring Emergency Wartime Supplemental Act provided an additional $50 million dollars that was then parceled out in two parts. The first, a $30 million USAID "quick impact" funding initiative was announced July 2, 2003. This funding was used to support the resumption of critical public services, private sector activities, and reconstruction of damaged roads in the West Bank and Gaza.
The remaining $20 million was provided directly to the PA, a first time move on the part of the US. This decision was made because of the credibility that Palestinian Finance Minister Fayyad brought to the PA budget process. His success in building a credible public finance system has been recognized by Israel, which resumed its tax revenue transfers to the Palestinian Authority in December 2002.
The $20 million was to be used to finance utility payments and repair and rehabilitate municipal infrastructure, and is subject to a variety of controls and auditing requirements.
In addition, the US gave the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA) in the Near East $129 million in 2003 and $88 million in regular annual contributions. Another $41 million was extended in response to UNRWA's two emergency appeals, which amounts to about 30 percent of the agency's total annual funding. — (menareport.com)
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