2017 Activities

Draft General Budget 2017

Draft General Budget 2017

The Civil Society Team for Public Budget Transparency which includes 35 civil society institutions from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and a group of experts, in addition to AMAN coalition serving as a secretariat for the CSTPBT explained its stand in the draft general budget 2017 during a meeting held by the Minister of Finance and Planning with representatives from the private and civil sector, in which the Minister Shukri Bshara promised to publish draft general budget for the year 2017 before being finally submitted, and to take the CSTPBT’s recommendations and to engage civil society organizations.
CSTPBT emphasized that its role is not a replacement for the role of the Legislative Council in submitting and monitoring the general budget, expressing its concern towards the Constitutional and Legal disruption.
CSTPBT emphasizes the need for a transparent general budget
The CSTPBT emphasized the importance of the Ministry of Finance and Planning to enhance transparency in the preparation and implementation of the general budget and abide by the legal provisions stipulated in the Palestinian Basic Law and the General Budget Law No. 7 of 1998, the State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau 2015, on a number of issues related to the general budget and the procedures for implementation by the Ministry of Finance and other responsibility centers.
In addition to the international standards for the transparency of public budgets, which include the publication of budget documents on time, including the issuance and publication of the citizen's budget in Arabic, the official language in the Palestinian Basic Law, as well as publishing quarterly reports and final accounts. The team also called on the Ministry of Finance and Planning to abide by the legal deadline for the submission of the draft budget law for the year 2017, and pointed out that the disruption of the Palestinian Legislative Council, does not exempt the government from committing to submit the general budget on time, which is in the beginning of November 2016.
Moreover, the team estimates and compares the items of the general budget 2017 which has been based on the figures of the budget items 2016 (actually achieved and not planned), some of which suffer from large distortion, and large deviations, and that these figures have become the reference estimated of the budget items 2017, deformities caused by the status quo as planned and approved, and built the budget of 2017 on those distortions. On the other hand, the group questioned the integration of several centers of responsibility into one center of responsibility, which it considered could be inflated by the proportion spent on the education, health and social development sectors.

Expectations of higher revenues, and demand the publication of signed agreements

CSTPBT praised the increase in tax revenues, which was boosted by effective collection, horizontal expansion and effective collection of fees, despite the fact that the private sector received tax cuts. The Panel also stressed the need for the draft general budget 2017 to include details of the public revenue building, in accordance with the relevant legal provisions, especially those related to the investment fund revenues, fees resulting from government agreements with different companies, details of tax rebates and others.
CSTPBT calls for the release of clarifications on the financial policies related to the Gaza Strip
The CSTPBT demands that the general budget includes a breakdown and a classification of revenues and sources in the Gaza Strip, whether through clearing or other revenues, in order to increase transparency and clarity, and to prevent their use to militarize and fuel the conflict and division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Team also demanded that the expenditures include details of spending on the Gaza Strip in the various axes and services, including electricity, as well as the governmental and financial policies related to the Gaza Strip, in order to achieve the principle of transparency and to prevent the confusion and the existing pressure on this subject.

Public debt, arrears and pension fund. Debt burdens the budget

The CSTPBT expressed its position on the public debt, arrears and pension fund. It considered that it is necessary to publish all the details and schedules related to public debt, internal and external, creditors, loan installments, interest rates, repayment mechanisms, etc. in accordance with the relevant legal provisions. He pointed out that the data of the Ministry of Finance and Planning indicate that the public debt as of 30/11/2016 (9,413.9) million shekels.
It has also considered that there is a need to disclose the government's public pension funds, which are very vague, and which do not have a specific number and do not fall within the public debt data disclosed. The team showed that the official data were quoted based on a World Bank report in a month 9/2016 indicates that the pension fund's debt has exceeded the barrier (1.6) billion dollars, or more than (6) billion shekels. And that during an interview with Prime Minister Dr. Rami Al-Hamad indicated that the internal and external debts currently amount to 4.2 billion dollars, half of which is in favor of the pension fund, which is equivalent to (2.1) billion dollars.

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