2021 Activity

Denouncing government approach to monopolising budget debate and absenting civil society, Civil Society Team for Enhancing Public Budget Transparency calls for presenting public budget to civil society actors before enactment

Denouncing government approach to monopolising budget debate and absenting civil society, Civil Society Team for Enhancing Public Budget Transparency calls for presenting public budget to civil society actors before enactment

The Civil Society Team for Enhancing Public Budget Transparency (“Team”) expresses its outrage and disappointment at the government restrained approach to debating the 2021 public budget in complete disregard of civil society organisations (CSOs). CSOs are effectively removed in line with the government tendency to exclude Palestinian civil society and actors involves in the oversight of public finances, This is in dramatic contrast to a recent statement made by the Prime Minister, asserting that civil society was a key partner in public financial management.

According a statement issued by the Council of Ministers on 15 March 2021, the government initiated a debate on the 2021 public budget. In the Council of Ministers’ session, the Minister of Finance provided a review of the 2021 budget line items. When the debate is completed in the upcoming session, the budget proposal will be approved and submitted to the President for enactment into a law by decree. According to the Public Budget Circular 2021-2023 released by the Ministry of Finance (MoF), the 2021 budget implies a fiscal deficit (gap) of NIS 3.022 billion that remains after grants and other financing sources. Worthy of note that, in 2020, public debt amounted to NIS 11.7 billion.

In repeated requests, the Team called for promoting a participatory approach to making publicly available and debating the current public budget proposal with civil society representatives. In particular, the state of emergency urgently requires transparency, openness, and engagement of civil society from across the spectrum. However, the government continues to practically ignore civil society and adopt a centralised approach, casting away Palestinians from debating their critical priorities and needs. Apart from recurrent speeches, the National Policy Agenda (NPA) underscores openness, transparency, and partnership with civil society and actors.

The budget is being enacted against the background deteriorating economic conditions and downturn in the Palestinian economy. The COVID-19 crisis has also unveiled a weak Palestinian health sector and incapability of providing needed vaccines to respond to the pandemic. In addition to a poor social protection system, the government is unable to provide aid and compensate workers and employers for losses and adverse economic impacts of the pandemic. The crisis has exposed all segments of the Palestinian people to vulnerability and poverty.

The government maintains a unilateral approach to making decisions on, and setting priorities of, public financial management and allocation. It continues to exclude civil society for participation in policy making and debate on public budget priorities, further compounding current socioeconomic crises.

Against this backdrop, the Team:

  1. Stresses the need to engage Palestinian citizens, civil society, political parties, experts, academics, and Team by publishing and debating the public budget proposal  with CSOs before it is approved by the Council of Ministers.
  2. Calls on the government to be more open and engaging, and initiate a community dialogue in response to the health and economic crisis and financial challenges facing the government in order to agree on procedures in support of public resilience.
  3. Calls for resetting the budget priorities, taking into account the decline in external support, expenditure rationalisation, optimal resource allocation, and achievement of social justice.
  4. Highlights the need that the government fulfil the pledges and obligations made by the Prime Minister in his speech on the letter of designation. As also outlined in the NPA, the government will be more open and ensure full citizen engagement.

 

Team members

Filastiniyat

Palestinian Centre for Democracy for Conflict Resolution

Palestinian Institute for Communication and Development

Palestinian Federation of Industries

Arab Centre for Agricultural Development

Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS)

Intellectuals’ Forum

Agricultural Development Association (PARC)

Democracy and Workers’ Rights Centre

Union of Agricultural Work Committees

Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre

Palestinian National Institute for NGO

Al-Hayat Centre for Civil Society Development

Teacher Creativity Centre

Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights

Palestine Governance Institute

Federation Palestinian of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture

MA’AN Development Centre

Centre for Continuing Education, Birzeit University  

Health Work Committees

Sawa Organisation

Juzoor for Health and Social Development

Al Nayzak Organization for Supportive Education and Scientific Innovation

NGO Development Centre

Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ)

Qader for Community and Development

Bisan Centre for Research and Development

Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH)

Al-Haq

Al-Hadath Newspaper

Institute of Developmental Studies

Bunyan Association for Community Development

Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO)

Social Developmental Forum

Pal-Think for Strategic Studies

Al-Eqtisadiah Newspaper

Academics, journalists and economic analysts

AMAN – Executive Secretary