2017 Activities

Pleas to Put an End to the Arbitrary Use of Power; Especially, the Decision-Making Power.. AMAN holds a session on the Decree-by-Law on the Tax and Service Fee Exemption for the Residents of the Gaza Strip

Pleas to Put an End to the Arbitrary Use of Power; Especially, the Decision-Making Power.. AMAN holds a session on the Decree-by-Law on the Tax and Service Fee Exemption for the Residents of the Gaza Strip

The Coalition for Integrity and Accountability – AMAN held a session to discuss the recent Presidential Decree, which has been brought to the light this April. The discussion was given over to evaluate the decision and review its rationale, implementation mechanism, impact on the value system of integrity and transparency of public finance management, public treasury, public rights and its legal, administrative and economic influence.

The session was attended by specialists and experts from the relevant government institutions, the Bar Association, the Palestinian Association of Certified Public Accountants, representatives from the Civil Team for the Public Budget Transparency and COSs. The majority of participants considered the decision to fall into the repercussions of the political division between the PNA and the de-facto government in the Gaza Strip. Such a move was taken to direct the finger of blame to the latter, for the financial liabilities incurred due to the decision to prevent the National Government of Accord from managing the Gaza Strip. The financial burden has exacerbated under the recent sui-generis hard times the PNA is going through. As the latest reports stand, the public budget is plagued with a huge gap between the revenues and expenditure, which was caused by the lack of financing and entitlement to impose any additional taxes.

On his part, Nazeeh Abdullah, acting director of Financial Control at the Ministry of Finance, considered the decision as a move to help the Ministry address the impact of the Presidential Decree No. 18 of 2007 on the exemption of the southern governorates of the taxes and service fees, which had an array of enforcement and implementation-related problems. What’s more, he argued that the current Decree-Law was promulgated, in the first place, to fulfil practical and professional purposes pertinent to the mandate of the MoF. Abduallah attributed the current row and confusion to the fact that the Decree was made simultaneously with other measures against the de-facto government in the Gaza Strip. In other words, the Decree is all about improving the revenues and abridging the public budget deficit.

On the other hand, the majority of participants asserted that the Decree has political underpinnings, which would cast its negative shadows over the public interest and fuel the persistent chasm. They also raised a question about the ill-timing of the enactment, which would negatively affect the Palestinian social cohesion and further fuel the fire of sensitivity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Taking due account of the persistent situation in the Gaza strip ever since 2007, the participants argued status cannot fall into the cases of necessity stipulated by Article 43 of the 2003 Amended Basic Law, which entitles the President of the National Authority, in cases of necessity that cannot be delayed, and when the Legislative Council is not in session, to issue decrees that have the power of law. The Decree also is in breach of the Basic Law, as it violates the principle of equality for all. “In fact, there is an urgent need to put an end to any repercussions of political conflicts that might affect the public money or cast shadows over the public interest” Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, AMAN BoD Anti-Corruption consultant, emphasized.

As the last syllable of the session wore on, the participants agreed to find solutions without prejudice to the public interest. They also called upon the decision-makers not to shoulder the members of the public more burdens through the arbitrary use of power to serve one part at the expense of the other. Such an action opens the door to political corruption to misuse power in pursuit of personal gains that are detrimental to the public interest or to use the member of the public as means to bring pressure to bear on the parties of conflict.

This issue throws back to 2007 when Mr. President enacted a presidential decree to exempt the southern governorates from taxes and service fees. Back then, a row was kicked up over the Decree legitimacy due to the lack of legal grounds, the chaos engulfing its implementation on the ground in the Gaza Strip, and the risk it imposed by leading to a tax duality of purpose. This would cast its shadows over the prices of public services and goods. By the same token, April 2017 has witnessed an enactment of another decree to exempt the residents of the Gaza Strip from taxes and service fees excluding the income tax.

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