Written by: Salah Haneya
Palestinian citizens will wake up next month to increases in the prices of a number of commodities as a result of the Palestinian government’s decision to raise the purchase tax on carbonated products, juices and plastic. These increases will be accompanied by others that do not need to be justified as long as the government increases the purchase tax on Palestinian products, thus not leaving space for competition. Although a pledge was given three months ago that the increase in the Israeli market will not be accompanied by an increase in the Palestinian market.
Science and theories say that tax policy has a goal, a philosophy and a role. Taxes achieve justice amongst the segments of society so that the millionaire does not pay the same purchase tax on the product that is paid by those who receive less than the minimum wage. This is what is happening to Palestinians. Taxes have a role, which is to reduce health and environmental damages, etc., but where these services in our society? In issues, such as waste, we find that opening a landfill is the occupation’s decision, and to purify sewage water causes problems, do we use its water after purification.
What do we want?
That privacy is granted to Palestinian products through temporary protection by not increasing the purchase tax on carbonated products, juices and plastics in order for there to remain competitive. This is one of the rights of states and governments to implement as a form of disengagement and avoidance from deepening economic and financial dependency.
Two years ago, the purchase tax was reduced on products in the Israeli market, however, they were not reduced in Palestine. Is it not our right to enjoy the decline, or do the increases affect us only? The decline in the industry’s contribution to the gross domestic product is due to such measures, which have become clear that their goal is collection only. Since the grants of donor countries declined, citizens bear the responsibility. If the burden is carried by the merchant, importer and factory, then it will be immediately taken from the citizens. This negative equation must be stopped and transformed into a tax policy biased towards Palestinian products, employment and investment.
It is no longer convincing scientifically and practically to say that Palestinian products will not be affected by the increase in the taxes of sugar and plastic. At the same time, we are informed that there will be an increase in the purchase tax early next month.
The supervisory authorities should activate their role in controlling and regulating the internal market, as it is unreasonable that dozens, if not hundreds, of complaints are received by the Palestinian Society for Consumer Protection about the increase in the price of gas cylinders for domestic use. We are going towards increases in electricity prices, treatment costs and insurance and banking transactions. However, there is not a solution for any of these critical issues, and the Ministry of Finance is jumping towards raising the tax on Palestinian products.
Hence, it is required to unify the media discourse with the same vocabulary between the Ministry of National Economy, the Ministry of Finance, the Monetary Authority and the Capital Market Authority, as these are the joints of the economy and government finance in Palestine. There should not be any contradictions with the provided information from these Ministries. For example, the Ministry of Finance insists on raising the tax on sugar, while the Ministry of National Economy assured the Palestinian Society for Consumer Protection that it will not happen, and then we find that the Ministry of Finance implemented its decision to raise the tax price.
The focus will be on the major companies that will be committed to any decision, but how will the facilities that produce juice and carbonated products in the basement floors of homes be controlled? This is where there will be a difference in prices.
Where is the government's pledge to reduce the purchase tax on basic commodities for the benefit of the Palestinian consumer and not for the merchant? These declines are reflected in prices, and the imported quota price is reflected in consumer prices. For example, the price of powdered milk has not decreased for at least 25 years in the Palestinian market, even though it is brought through the Karama crossing and is not taxed. Do not raise the prices and reduce competitive opportunities.