Friday, 7 October. 2022
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

Ramallah – 1/9/2022 – MIFTAH recently launched the 2022 digital citizens’ budget in coordination with the budget and planning teams from various line ministries. The citizens’ budgets of six ministries were presented during the meeting. MIFTAH shared its experiences with partner ministries and biannual and annual actual spending reports for the various ministries were compared.

MIFTAH Executive Director, Dr. Tahreer Al Araj addressed advocacy and lobbying efforts in line with MIFTAH’s strategic approaches, to include standards of social justice in public fiscal policies. This, she said, requires citizens to be aware of their rights, which includes the publication of citizens’ budgets and government spending reports for various public institutions. Araj maintained that citizens’ reports help to identify several indicators pointing to social gaps and constitute a reference for how these gaps reflect on marginalized and vulnerable groups including the government’s bias towards them.

Furthermore, MIFTAH’s Democracy and Good Governance Program Director, Lamis Shuaibi-Hantouli addressed MIFTAH’s role and relationship with the various ministries in encouraging them to be more open in the publication of their fiscal statements. She also touched on the evolving relationship between civil society and the government and the impact of these fiscal policies at the level of budgets and public spending, in addition to development towards digitalization. She discussed the impact of these policies vis-à-vis good practices pertaining to international transparency, in addition to influencing executive policies in line with national reform strategies. In addition, Shuaibi-Hantouli spoke about MIFTAH’s support in providing a climate of dialogue between the relevant parties, based on evidence from accurate financial facts and figures, which she said comprised the basis for social accountability.

The e-platform for citizens’ budgets was then presented, which includes several social sector institutions and the general citizens’ budget. The platform reflects a transformation in how budgets are released. Their digitalization promotes more candidness among ministries about their services and how citizens can access data on public expenditures. The platform also includes interactive tools that allow its visitors to send in suggestions, complaints or objections regarding expenditures to the various public institutions.

The participants discussed the recommendations by the ministries’ budget and planning teams, which stressed on the importance of providing the platform with tools to simplify the ministries’ programs and budgets to the public and compare them to the actual spending of these institutions. The recommendations also said it was imperative to guarantee the platform’s sustainability and coordinate with ministries to regularly provide it with the necessary data, which first requires a Cabinet decision to adopt a citizens’ budget e-platform.

MIFTAH’s Dialogue Unit head, Hassan Mahareeq, said the launching of this budget was in line with MIFTAH’s strategic approaches to continue advocacy and lobbying efforts in order to guarantee social justice and equality in the development of public policies. He also said the organization sought the promotion of good governance in Palestine. To this end, Mahareeq explained that MIFTAH, in cooperation with UNDP, has worked on digitizing the citizens’ budget, in partnership with several ministries from the social sector, since the start of this year. He said the overall objective was the sustainability and development of international transparency standards for budgets and to promote more openness from government institutions towards the public, by regularly releasing financial statements pertaining to government spending allocations on social services programs. Another objective, he maintained was to improve citizens’ access to these services through this e-platform.

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