Calls for Repealing the Law of National Solidarity Tax

Press Release – Palestinian NGO’s Network

Human Rights Organizations and PNGO in Gaza Call for Repealing the Law of National Solidarity TaxHuman Rights Organizations and PNGO in Gaza Call for Repealing the Law of National Solidarity Tax

The undersigned human rights organizations and Palestinian non-governmental Organization (PNGO) undersigning this statement reviewed a hard copy stamped by the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) of the bill no. ( ) of 2015, on organizing the general budget and financial affairs. Since the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority, this bill unprecedentedly imposes a new tax called “National Solidarity Tax”.

The 4-article bill stipulates that the Ministry of Finance is the authority to collect the revenues from 01 April – 31 December 2015 and that the Minister of Finance or his deputy imposes the National Solidarity Tax during the abovementioned period without affecting any other taxes imposed by any other law. Article 2 of the bill determines the rates of the tax as not exceeding 10% of commodities entered to the southern governorates, 10% of services in and out of the southern governorates, 100% of tobacco and its derivatives and 10% on public shareholding companies whose net profit exceed a USD million per annum. This bill would enter into the force on the date of issuance not from the date of its publication in the official gazette.

As it is clear from the preamble, the bill is based on article 90 of the amended Palestinian Basic Law of 2003, Law no. 7/1998 on Organizing the General Budget and Financial Affairs, article 74 of the PLC Rule of Procedure and what was approved by the PLC in its session on 11 February 2015.

The undersigned organizations remind of and stress their solid position towards the passing of legislations by the Change and Reform Bloc on behalf of the PLC on the one hand and President’s issuance of decrees with the power of law under the pretext that PLC cannot convene on the other hand. These measures undermine any steps and efforts aiming to build a unified legal system that the Palestinian Authority has worked on achieving since 1994. These measures would establish two different legal and financial systems in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Therefore, the undersigned organizations emphasize the following:

1. The legislative power of any elected legislature is not an absolute power, and the jurisprudence around the world has imposed a number of conditions and restrictions on practicing the power of legislation, particularly the importance of having harmony between any legislation and a clearly defined legislative policy and the need to study its implications on the society in a way that avoids its negative effects and financial burdens on citizens.

2. The bill lacks clear justifications, and its application will seriously affect all the categories of society, particularly poor people. This bill will negatively affect their enjoyment of their rights guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law and all international instruments and conventions. These taxes imposed on many basic commodities overburden Palestinian citizens, who already suffer from the deterioration of living standards and degradation of the social and economic conditions due to many reasons, including the Israeli closure that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for eight consecutive years.

3. Enacting this law and imposing this bill by the “Change and Reform” bloc affiliated with Hamas is a step to enhance the internal division, especially as a national unity government is currently in office.

4. It is important and a must to hold community-based discussions before the legislature issues a new legislation. This is a very significant step when imposing new taxes or raising the value of taxes imposed on the Palestinian citizens and consumers.

5. Limiting the application of the bill to a certain period and taxes to specific percentages are not sufficient reasons to make the bill acceptable.

In light of the above, the undersigned organizations and PNGO:

• Call for withdrawing of the bill and retroactively handling any of its effects;

• Call upon the Change and Reform bloc to passing laws using its de facto force in Gaza on behalf of the PLC, call upon the Palestinian President to stop issuing presidential decrees under the internal division, and emphasize the importance of convening the PLC in order to get out of the current legislative crisis which has been persistent since the beginning of the division.

• Call upon the national unity government to deal with the crises rocking the Gaza Strip, especially finding a just and solution of the Gaza Strip employees’ salaries according to the law and quickly incorporating employees, and call for enabling the government to carry out its duties.

ENDS

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