Thursday, 8 December. 2022
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

Ramallah – 19/5/2022 – MIFTAH held a hearing session this week on the Ministry of Social Development’s allocations for its social protection programs, in the Gaza Strip in particular. The session is part of MIFTAH’s interventions within its program “Working together as Agents for change: Towards the protection and promotion of Women’s human rights”, carried out in partnership with the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC) and funded by the EU. The objective of the program is to push towards enhancing social protection services and facilitating the access of marginalized social sectors to these services, women subjected to violence, in particular through increasing government allowances for these services.

Representatives from the ministries of Social Development (MoSD) and Finance attended the meeting, along with CSOs and the Civil Society Team for Enhancing Public Budget Transparency in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Data on the budgets allocated for social protection programs was presented, which concluded that there has been a decrease in spending on these protection programs, reflected in allocated budgets and actual expenditures since 2017.

According to the data, the share for the empowerment and poverty reduction (cash assistance) program, was 92% of the overall MoSD budget in 2021. Meanwhile, the share for the protection of marginalized and poor sectors program stood at 6% .The data indicated that women comprised 52% of the overall beneficiaries from the empowerment and poverty reduction program and that the Gaza Strip’s share of allocations was 76% as opposed to 24% for the West Bank.

It should be noted that cash assistance dropped from four installments in 2016 and 2017 to one installment in 2021, which shows the extent of budget cuts for this program and its impact on poverty rates in Palestinian society.

In spite of the importance of protection programs for poor sectors, insomuch as they are the core of the MoSD’s work, financial allocations and budgets allotted to them are very limited. In 2021, less than ILS50 million, or 5% of the Ministry’s budget, were earmarked for these programs. Moreover, between 2019 to 2021, gaps have appeared and widened in terms of allocated budgets in comparison with the actual expenditures for providing and purchasing services for these categories.

The session included a presentation of the financial statements of direct expenditures for poverty reduction and aid in the Gaza Strip. The MoSD in Gaza presented an oral report on the sums, beneficiaries, forms of aid and its distribution among the various social sectors in the Strip. It noted that these services were part of efforts by individuals in the Ministry, not within the framework of the general budget, but through support from external funding parties and implemented by local institutions.

The participant CSOs agreed to produce a position paper with a demand for clear standards of transparency in financial data pertaining to approved allocations and actual expenditures from official executive parties. Other demands include: an increase in spending allocations for protection services, to converge, at a minimum, with the needs of violence and poverty-prone women in particular; the development of fiscal policies more responsive to poor and marginalized social categories; unifying expenditures in the social protection sector within the MoSD’s program budgets; coordinating their interventions with targeted sectors; translating the reform of protection policies at the Ministry into budgets to complete the shift from relief to empowerment; stressing on the importance of including social protection policies in the multiple dimensions pertaining to food security and protection from violence, suitable housing and other basic rights, which oblige the government to fulfill its duties towards poor and marginalized social sectors.

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