The participants in the meeting held by the Coalition for Integrity and Accountability- AMAN to discuss a draft report on "Integrity, Accountability and Transparency in the Work of the Palestinian Monetary Authority" recommended that the Palestinian law should clarify the ambiguity of the concept of financial and administrative independence granted to several public institutions. The recommendation has particularly focused on mechanisms to hold the Monetary Authority accountable and overseen as well as the administrative and financial decision-making mechanisms. In addition, the participants recommended concluding the legal framework which regulates the Monetary Authority work in order to keep pace with the developments in the work of central banks and the regulations and procedures in the world countries, especially in terms of empowering the Board of Directors and abolishing the existing overlap as the Governor of the Monetary Authority is the head of its executive authority and Chairman of Board of Directors. It was also recommended to set clear professional criteria for the conditions that the Governor of Monetary Authority, his deputy and members of the Board of Directors should meet. Furthermore, it was recommended that the difference between the salaries of the Monetary Authority employees and various governmental institutions should not be big when the two are compared.
The meeting, which was not attended by the Palestinian Monetary Authority as it apologized for not participating and stipulated to hold a bilateral advanced meeting with AMAN Coalition to discuss the draft report, was attended by representatives of the Financial and Administrative Audit Bureau, banks, money-exchange companies, associations of chambers of commerce, microfinance institutions, Capital Market Authority, Palestinian Investment Fund, unions, societies, a number of civil society organizations as well as a number of academics and journalists. Those participants have stressed the need to define the criteria for appointing the Governor of the Monetary Authority, his Deputy and members of the Board of Directors as well as addressing the overlap in the role and functions of the Governor in his capacity as the head of the executive pyramid of the Monetary Authority on the one hand, and as a Chairman of the Board of Directors on the other. The participants have also focused on activating the role of the Board of Directors in terms of overseeing the performance of the Governor and holding him accountable as a starting point to apply governance in the Monetary Authority.
The Executive Director of AMAN Coalition, Majdi Abu Zaid, said at the beginning of the meeting that the absence of the Monetary Authority came after its apology for participating in the discussion of the report, which is one of the specialized monitoring reports that AMAN Coalition usually produces to promote integrity, accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs and public funds. Abu Zaid stressed that there are societal remarks on the Monetary Authority work, namely, the exaggerated luxury such as the new headquarters, cars, furniture, employee salaries and privileges that do not harmonize with the difficult economic situation of the Palestinians. The new building has costed USD $27 million, which is sufficient to provide living for 1900 poor families or building nine schools or reclamation of 13 thousand agricultural Dunoms or building a hospital or 27 clinics. Abu Zaid attributed the state of extravagance and exaggeration in public spending by the Monetary Authority to the misunderstanding of financial and administrative independence and lack of clarity in the institutions of the Palestinian Authority in general. This independence actually means non-interference by influential people in the work of institutions from outside the institution itself, but it does not mean spending the public funds without restrictions under the pretext of financial and administrative independence.
Dr. Basem Zubaidi, who prepared the report in favor of AMAN Coalition, pointed out that the legal framework governing the Monetary Authority work is old and needs to be developed, especially the financial and administrative independence section which has meant to enable the MA to enhance its role effectively and not to exempt it from oversight and accountability. The monopoly of the Executive Authority and the absence of the Legislative Council should not exempt the Governor, his deputy and members of the Board of Directors from being held accountable.
Zubaidi also pointed out that the Monetary Authority has strengthened itself through the material and human resources it holds, in the light of Palestinian and international interest in transforming it into a central bank. The Monetary Authority has been granted financial and administrative independence to enhance its effectiveness and efficiency due to the specificity of the tasks in which it is entrusted, which can be clearly seen in the salaries//wages and privileges of its employees, the purchase and rental of vehicles and the remunerations of the members of its Board of Directors that could reach up to USD $15,000 per year as well as the accountability and oversight mechanism and its administrative or financial decision-making mechanism.
For his part, Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, Adviser of AMAN Coalition’s Board of Directors Stressed that the oversight role of AMAN Coalition is not based on evaluating people, but rather examining the extent of their commitment to the terms of integrity, transparency and accountability during the tenure of their public office. He added that this evaluation comes to identify the shortcomings and declines based on the concept of accountability which requires the officials to report on their work and to answer the citizens’ questions and queries. Shoaibi pointed out the need to examine the extent of applying accountability to the head of the Monetary Authority by reviewing the minutes of the Board of Directors in accordance with the principles of the National Policy Agenda, especially that the absence of the Monetary Authority from the meeting is a back-turning to the community accountability.
The economic expert, Dr. Nasr Abd Al-karim stressed that the address of governance in any institution is the Board of Directors. He added that each public institution must provide the minutes of the Board meetings to examine the issues that have been discussed and to what extent they are important to the citizen.
At the end of the meeting, the representative of the money-exchangers Mr. Tayel Al-Hewwari pointed to the occurrence of fundamental problems between the Monetary Authority and the workers in the exchange sector as a result of mistreatment by the Monetary Authority staff, resorting to impose exaggerated fines and issuing strict instructions to be applied to money-exchangers unilaterally and without prior discussion. However, the representative of the Jordanian Commercial Bank Mr. Montaser Ash-Shashtari was at odds with him and pointed out that there are understandings between the banks and the Monetary Authority upon which any instructions sent by the Monetary Authority to the banks are discussed and amended before implementation.