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Source: United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO)
31 October 2008

Since 1996 UNSCO has continually monitored and reported on socio-economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the process established an extensive socio-economic database. UNSCO does not create raw data but rather uses available data which, in the occupied Palestinian territory is relatively abundant. However, the data that is available tends to remain dispersed and is not always automatically shared between institutions. The objective of the database is to bring together in one place a wide variety of data on socio-economic conditions and by doing so present a broader, more detailed perspective on socio-economic conditions. The purpose of this report is to: 1) broaden the access to this database through publication of the most recent data gathered; and 2) provide readers with up to date information on socio-economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The report is divided into three sections:

Section 1 consists of a one-page fact sheet which provides a snapshot view of the socioeconomic situation of the current and previous reporting period and for reference purposes provides base line figures for the period just prior to the outbreak of the second Intifada.

Section 2 and 3 report on the Macro-economic and the Private sector and banking modules of the UNSCO database. They provide data on the last six reporting periods for each indicator as well as base line data. In addition, some initial analysis on observed trends is given below each table.

1 For a more detailed report on sections C (Macro-economy) and D (Private sector), see data below.
2 CPI Base year 2004 = 100
3 MoNE data does not include aggregates or aid flows in Aug 2000.
4 * Please note that data for Q2-2008 has been adjusted by the PMA for all bank credit categories.
5 Adjusted unemployment is calculated by adding discouraged workers (i.e. unemployed but no longer seeking work) to the ILO standard.
6 Effective closure days are calculated by adding all days when a crossing was fully or partially closed excluding weekend and holidays.

For further information please contact: Ramallah: Bushra Mukbil; Gaza Strip: Raed Raqeb

The exchange rate between the US dollar and the NIS has slightly increased in October, 2008. Generally, due to the global financial crisis, foreign currency markets showed weak exchange rates against the dollar.

Volume of registered fuel sales in the Gaza Strip decreased in October 2008, if compared to September 2008. Gasoline sales dropped by approximately 40%.

The Palestinian CPI figures for October 2008 for the oPt has remained steady since September, 2008. The CPI for the West Bank has slightly decreased, by .04%, and by .65% for the Gaza Strip. Minor declines were recorded in October 2008 for the oPt in the Recreational Goods & Services, Restaurants & Cafés groups, while there was a minor increase in the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear group.

Truck movement to Gaza has been restricted to humanitarian supplies only since 12 June 2007. Exports were stopped altogether at the same time with limited agricultural exports allowed in November 2007. October data indicates a significant decline in the total of imported truckloads to the Gaza Strip, by approximately 35.24%, when compared to September. Of the 1,222 trucks imported through Karni, 558 trucks were gravel, 122 cement, and 542 trucks of beans, wheat and animal feed.

The number of new company registrations is used as a proxy indicator for the vitality of the local economy as well as the ability of the local economy to create new employment. New company registrations in the West Bank slightly rose in October 2008, by 1%. However, if compared to pre- Intifada levels new company registrations have dropped by approximately 58%. As for Gaza, figures for the Ministry of Economy in Ramallah show that the number of new company registrations has remained at zero, while data from the authorities in Gaza indicate 20 new registered companies for October, 2008.

Similar to new company registrations, the area licensed for new construction is also used as a proxy indicator for economic vitality. If compared with September 2008, areas licensed for new construction for the West Bank increased in October by approximately 2.5%, while it has markedly
dropped in the Gaza Strip by 47.8%. However, if compared with pre-Intifada levels, areas licensed for new constructions have dropped by approximately 56.2% for the West Bank and by 95.2% for the Gaza Strip.

If disaggregated by type, and if compared with Q1-2008, it appears that in Q2-2008 non-residential construction decreased in the oPt by approximately 26%, and residential construction decreased by 34.9%. It is important to note that data for Gaza, according to the PCBS, is based on estimates.

Data on bank credit is used as a proxy indicator for perceptions of economic progress (increasing use of bank credit, particularly in the main productive sectors) or decline (decreasing use of bank credit). The Palestine Monetary Authority provides adjusted data once every three months. In relative terms, general trade and Real Estate and Lands show an increase in its use of credit. Bank credit to the public sector also indicates an increase in Q3-2008 by approximately 6.2% from Q2- 2008. (Please note the PMA has adjusted the indicators for bank credit by economic activities
starting Q1-2008. Due to such significant changes, current trends cannot be compared to those prior to 2008.)

Disaggregating bank credit by the type of credit, data shows an increase in both loans and bank overdrafts. Loans currently represent 61.4 percent of all credit extended compared to only 41% in the pre-Intifada period.

Disaggregating bank credit by the borrowing entity shows that consumer lending has increased in the third quarter of 2008. Compared to pre-intifada levels, consumer borrowing has slightly deceased, by 5%.

Bank deposit data for the third quarter in 2008 indicates an increase in both private sector and public sector deposits. Compared with the second quarter of 2008, total bank deposits in the third quarter of 2008 showed an increase of 4.66 percent.

In a normal functioning economy an increase in the loans versus deposits ratio would be a positive sign as monies are not saved but invested or consumed, each of which is a stimulant for the economy. Since September 2006, this ratio has steadily declined in the oPt signaling little optimism
concerning the Palestinian economy which limits appetite for domestic investment and thus increases deposits. The sharp drop in the second and third quarter signals heightened concern with regard to overall economic performance.

Similar to bank credit and deposits, data on the Palestinian stock exchange is used as a proxy indicator of Palestinian perceptions vis-à-vis the state of the national economy. Data for October 2008 shows a decrease in trade at the stock exchange in terms of value and an increase in terms of number of stocks traded. The Al-Quds index decreased by approximately 16% in October from September 2008.

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