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Endemic Corruption Within the Palestinian Authority


World  (tags: corruption, crime, ethics, government, PA, Muslims, PA, palestine, middle-east )

Gillian
- 1435 days ago - monni.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it
Despite the creation of several committees and the numerous efforts put in place by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, corruption has reached endemic levels within the institutions of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).



   

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Gillian M (11)
Thursday August 13, 2015, 1:42 pm
Despite the creation of several committees and the numerous efforts put in place by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, corruption has reached endemic levels within the institutions of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

An independent organization based in Ramallah, AMAN, released its annual report on corruption (2014), detailing widespread corruption within the PNA. AMAN is an organization consisting of a coalition of five NGO’s and previously headed by PLO senior official Hanan Ashrawi.

"Corruption involving public representatives and members of the private sector- which provide services in the PA- is growing day by day," revealed Isam Haj Hussein, the operations director of AMAN.

The data of the report highlights a consistent lack of transparency in financial statements provided by the Ministry of Finance, an exponential growth of nepotism in hiring for public posts, an unjustified increase in the executive salaries of non-governmental institutions and abuse of power by Palestinian officials, which, according to AMAN, represents more than 50% of the complaints presented by Palestinian citizens to the anti-corruption organization.

"Within the PNA," explained Hussein, “there are about 50 non-ministerial organizations that have full control of their budget, deciding their own salaries and operating expenses without being accountable to anyone.” Dozens of senior executives in such organizations (including the head of the PA-generated commission against corruption) receive salaries between 8 and twelve thousand dollars a month.

According to the report, 16 employees were appointed to senior posts in 2014 amid the absence of free competition and equal opportunities in recruitment, and there are currently nearly 1000 vacant senior posts in the civil service. AMAN stresses that there is a lack of transparent standards within the processes for appointing staff of "special and senior grade" due to the lack of the principle of competition.

The various commissions created by the PNA, such as the one pertaining to TV, Radio and Communications, are, according to Hussein, “containers to provide jobs and obtain political consensus: the aforementioned commission has 1,400 employees, but only 300 of these actually work, the others, according to our investigation, do not even show up at the workplace.”

The Palestinian Authority is the largest employer in the West Bank and Gaza. According to recent figures, it employs 220,000 workers, 160,000 in the civil sector with the remainder in the security field. Since the political division between Hamas and Fatah began in 2007, Hamas has run a separate government in the Gaza Strip, with its own civil service of around 50,000. During this time, however, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority has continued paying the monthly salaries of its 70,000 employees in the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that it is not operational on the ground.

According to a 2010 World Bank report, Hussein of AMAN explained, there are about 13,000 “ghost employees” (in the civil and security sector) that are actually activists of political factions operating in universities and trade unions, or the sons and daughters of Palestinian officials who study abroad. These employees are allegedly tools utilised by politicians to gain much-needed consensus in the volatile and often instable situation in the West Bank.

The concentration of power within the hands of Palestinian Presidents Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) and the PLC’s endless hiatus are reportedly among the main causes of corruption within the PNA. Many analysts have raised questions apropos the absorption of power by the Palestinian leader, and the fact that new laws and regulations are introduced by presidential decrees without the checks and balances of an independent body.

"There is no control mechanism in public hiring. The parliament has now been blocked for ten years due to the frictions between Hamas and Fatah and the President is the only one, for example, who can approve the annual budget of the government, a budget that cannot be quantified and controlled by anyone,” said Hussein. Even the attempt to present a "citizens' budget", a document written to allow ordinary people to control government spending, was, according to AMAN, withdrawn without reason.

"Corruption and nepotism are part of the system and talking about it can be very dangerous," said Bassam Zakarneh, head of the Union of Public Employees (UPE). In November 2014 Zakarneh was arrested –through a presidential decree- by the Palestinian forces and detained for eight days for having called for a general strike of public employees (40,000 members) to denounce the exponential growth in the cost of living compared to the salary of civil servants. The union offices were closed and, according Zakarneh, "more than 100 UPE members were summoned in various police stations in the West Bank and ‘advised’ not to take part in strikes and other illegal activities, or else they would have been arrested". Ibrahim Khreisheh, the secretary general of the Palestinian parliament (PLC), criticized the decision of the Presidency to arrest the leaders of the union and in response he was prevented by security forces from entering the PLC facilities for more than a week. Several prominent members of the PLO, such as Hanan Ashrawi, Mustafa Barghouti and Khalida Jarrar, condemned the incident, labeling the treatment received by Khreisheh “a violation of free speech”.

Rampant corruption is not only having a deleterious effect on public finance, argued Hussein, but also on the broader population, which is "more concerned with securing a salary than demanding accountability and transparency from the government.” According to a recent poll released by the Palestinian Policy and Survey Research, 77% of the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank considers the PA to be corrupt.

"The worrying thing is,” said Hussein, “that although donor countries (EU, USA, Arab countries) have repeatedly expressed the need for reforms towards transparency. They are aware of the massive corruption within the institutional and private sector, but they continue to fund the Palestinian Authority because it can guarantee a minimum of security in the region.”

“We have an effective control and a very meaningful political dialogue with the highest authorities of the PNA to ensure that the managing of public finance is sound and that reforms continue,” claimed John Gatt-Rutter, the EU representative in the West Bank and Gaza. The official stressed the fact that Europe is keeping a close eye on this matter, identifying the non-functioning Palestinian parliament and the weakness of the Palestinian private sector –not able, according to Gatt-Rutter, to share the burden in terms of employment with the public administration- as the causes of the problems highlighted by AMAN’s report. “In the absence of a peace process and the lack of prospectives for the Palestinian people, the PA –added the European official- is facing serious challenges and overall is doing fairly well."

Most of the European Union's assistance to the Palestinian Authority is channeled through PEGASE, the financial mechanism launched in 2008 to support the PA Reform and Development Plan. As well as helping meet a substantial proportion of its running costs, European funds support major reform and development programs in key ministries, to help prepare the PA for statehood. Since February 2008, around €1.8 billion have been disbursed through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support programs.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who attended the release of the report, said he was determined to combat corruption and the phenomenon of Wasta (nepotism in Arabic), praised the efforts of AMAN and urged all institutions to “contribute to and participate in implementing the National Strategic Plan to Combat Corruption.”

But according to Hussein, "legality and accountability will not be re-established until the powers of control of the Palestinian parliament are restored through new elections. Until then,” he claimed, “the fight against corruption will be a battle lost from the beginning.”

 

Roger G (148)
Thursday August 13, 2015, 1:50 pm
as expected... when people are brain washed with islamic propaganda they have no ethics at all.. just look at the girls slavery racket run by IS.,,,
sadly noted, thanks
 

Hilary S (65)
Thursday August 13, 2015, 6:14 pm
pretty tragic. the resources would be better directed somewhere they'd do good and save lives.

furthermore, the palestinians have become so dependent on external monies i doubt they'll ever be able to function as an independent state.
 

Gillian M (11)
Saturday August 15, 2015, 7:01 am
It saddens me that what could be a fertile land with good amenities is being denied the Palestinians by their own people. That the finances and materials to do so are taken from the people to line terrorist pockets and to build terror tunnels which took hundreds of childrens' lives. Yet the anti-Semites ignore this suffering and blame Israel. Surely it is time to face the truth, that this suffering is caused and aggravated because of this wilful blindness and failure to bring to account the actual perpetrators.
 
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