The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) has viewed the decisions made by President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, 19 August 2019. Having been published in the national media, these decisions provide for terminating services of all the President’s advisors “in their advisory capacity” and regardless of their titles or grades, revoking the decisions and contracts concerning them, and suspending the rights and privileges they enjoy by the virtue of being advisors.
AMAN has also been informed of the President’s decision, which binds the Prime Minister and ministers of the 17th government to reimburse the amounts they earned during the period that preceded the President’s approval of their salaries and honoraria. Members of the former government are required to pay the due amounts in one instalment. The amounts received following the President’s approval will be considered as an honorarium. The President also decided to restore all the amounts paid as rent allowances from members of the 17th government, who proved not to have rented housing accommodation during the same period.
AMAN is of the view that these decisions will correct imbalances and remove uncertainties that surrounded the issuance and implementation the decision on the raise of ministers’ salaries. The decision caused damage to, and wasted, public finances in the midst of the financial crisis faced by the Palestinian government due to Israel’s piracy of Palestinian clearance revenues. AMAN believes that the Law No. 11 of 2004 on the Honoraria and Salaries of Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Members of the Government and Governors clearly and unambiguously establishes the remunerations of the Prime Minister and ministers. These payments can only be adjusted by the said law.
Against this background, AMAN welcomes the President’s directions with a view to eliminating abuse of power and achievement of gains and privileges beyond the provisions of the law. AMAN stresses the need to:
Establish an impartial investigation committee to uncover the whole truth, hold to account the parties involved in the case, and publish investigation results. AMAN believes that the mechanisms of approving ministerial salary raises were mysterious and in conflict with the law. Additionally, implementation mechanisms were flawed by a great deal of bad faith and suspicions of fraud.
Hold to account and bring to justice the persons found to be involved in unlawful violations, including abuse of public office.
Suspend any salary raises given in contravention of the Law No. 11 of 2004.
Call on the Palestinian government to approve and publish a comprehensive and partnership-based austerity plan, reflecting a serious approach and will for rationalisation. To promote perseverance of citizens and rebuild trust in the government, the plan will be grounded in fair distribution of resources and equitable burden sharing.