The economist Omar Shaban, founder and director of the Gaza-based think tank PalThink for Strategic Studies, criticized the PNA plan for what he regards as ‘bottom up’ planning without specific development goals, lack of adequate participation of business and civil society in its development, and an absence of clear criteria for measuring macroeconomic impact and progress. Mr. Shaban told the Bulletin that while current efforts for reconstruction should be welcomed, they need to be placed within a longer-term strategic vision for Gaza’s development. He also added that “…the current pace of progress in reconstruction activities is too slow. The process must be accelerated not just to improve living conditions for the people in Gaza, but also to prevent the resumption of violence.”
Looking to the future Mr. Shaban said: “…with unemployment already at unsustainably high levels and thousands of new labor market entrants every year (including some 20,000 graduates), job creation is an absolute priority. The coalition government, while a necessary political development, will need to absorb current Hamas employees into it payroll. If this happens, the PNA will not be able to absorb any new workers for a decade, leaving the private sector as the only part of the economy capable of creating jobs in the coming years.” Beyond job creation, Mr. Shaban sees the private sector playing a vital role in facilitating reconstruction through service delivery and domestic investment, and particularly by leveraging expertise and capital from the Palestinian diaspora. “The private sector can bring prosperity and change the landscape in Gaza. For this, it is essential to harness business creativity and innovation by involving the private sector in decision-making around future planning in Gaza”, he concluded.
To read the special report on Gaza’s reconstruction please click here.