An estimated US$800 million of public funds are lost each year due to tax evasion in Palestine. After reading one of our reports on the topic, Ali Waleid* was inspired to take up a case against an electricity company serving his city. The company was registered as a cooperative rather than a profitable business and so avoided paying tax – meaning much-needed public funds for health, education and other essential services were being lost.
Ali came to our anti-corruption legal advice centre for support and provided evidence to back up his claims. Recognising that such practices are a serious problem across Gaza and the West Bank, we addressed a letter to the Ministry of Finance calling for an urgent investigation. Two weeks later the ministry responded. The allegations had been true and the ministry would take action to ensure the company paid back the tax-related money. More than US$64,000 of public money has been reclaimed as a result. Even more will be saved as the company pays the correct tax in future years and as the ministry cracks down on other companies falsely registered as cooperatives.
For his part, Ali now wants to be more involved in our activities in Palestine and to show others that individuals like him can, and do, make a difference.
* Names have been changed.