alJazeera Magazine - RAMALLAH, March 15, 2010 (WAFA)- Acting Director of the U.S. Trade Development Agency Leocadia Lee Zak, U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein, and Bayti Real Estate CEO Bashar Masri signed two grant agreements today in support of Rawabi, the first Palestinian planned city, located outside of Ramallah. 

The two projects include a $413,000 grant for technical assistance to develop an information and communications technology master plan for the new city and $274,000 for a tertiary waste water treatment feasibility study for Rawabi and surrounding communities.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Acting Director of TDA and the Consul General each stressed the U.S. Government's support for the Palestinian Authority's
efforts to address the shortage of affordable housing for the growing Palestinian population, and for Prime Minister Fayyad's program to build the institutions of a Palestinian state.

Bayti's Bashar Masri noted, The company's challenge is to balance the need to build housing that is affordable to the average Palestinian with the need to protect and preserve the environment; some of the most advanced technologies are still too expensive to practically incorporate into a city designed to be affordable to young families. Mr. Masri also underscored the pivotal role that a highly developed ICT infrastructure will play in absorbing the well-educated but underemployed Palestinian workforce.

Later this month, USTDA will also sign a $558,000 grant to support technical assistance for the PA Ministry of Finance's General Petroleum Corporation (GPC). The grant will help define a strategy to improve GPC's physical infrastructure and the institutional administration. Our goal is to help improve transparency and
accountability of the petroleum sector, a key part of the institution building necessary for the future state of Palestine, said Consul General Rubinstein.

USTDA is an independent U.S. Government foreign assistance agency that aims to advance economic development in developing and middle-income countries by providing access to U.S. technology and expertise. USTDA provides grant funding for capacity building and projects that support the development of modern infrastructure and an open trading system.

In addition to the Rawabi and Ministry of Finance grants, USTDA projects in the Palestinian Territories include an Internet data center feasibility study, funding for an orientation visit by marble and stone companies to the United States, and a feasibility study grant for a renewable energy company.


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