MIFTAH caps off training workshop for women and youth organizations on public budget analysis
Ramallah – 6/8/2019 – Over a three-day period, MIFTAH organized a training workshop that targeted a group of women and youth organizations in order to build civil society capacities and to provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary to read and analyze the public budget and actual expenditure reports. Another objective was to provide them with monitoring and social accountability tools for the public budget and to measure the extent of compatibility of budgets, fiscal policies and programs from a gender perspective i. This aim of the workshop was to prompt these organizationsto join the Civil Society Team on Public Budget Transparency lead by AMAN coalition, which periodically monitors the financial performance of the government, follows government spending and organize public hearing sessions with the Ministry of Finance on an annual basis to held the ministry of Finance accountable to issues pertaining to the public budget and the government’s fiscal policies, based on governmental financial reports and data.
Mohammed Sabri Al Biss, Director of the Social Development Department at the Health Work Committees said, “I was never very interested in the idea of training before, mostly because it is not my field of expertise. However, after I participated in this training, many things are now clearer for me about the public budget. I am able to calculate the various expenditures of the state’s public budget and its details for example. I can now also analyze certain things pertaining to the current economic situation and where things are headed,” he said.
“I also think this training was important in terms of lobbying and advocacy for certain campaigns that target some of the sectors we are concerned with like health ,education, youth, women and social affairs within the context of the public budget.”
Another participant, Ahlam Abdel Karim Zubeidi, financial director at the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW) said, “It was very important to me since this is my field of study. I acquired a lot of skills in terms of budget preparation, expenditures and inflated sums allocated to some provisions in the budget.” She went on to say that, “If I were asked to prepare the GUPW’s budget, I could do it right now, something that was not possible before this training.” Zubeidi said she hoped more trainings would be held, which focus on other practical aspects to help strengthen their skills and expertise. “Most work in local institutions is typical and unspecialized and lacks creativity. This is why MIFTAH’s training and hopefully its continuation in the future is extremely important.”
MIFTAH consultant on budget affairs, Muayyad Afana who also supervised the training said, “The training workshop was important in that it gave women and youth organizations the skills for better understanding the public budget, whether in regards to its terminology or the economic, social and legal framework. This will better equip them to read budget numbers and expenditure indicators in Palestine and to analyze actual expenditures, especially for the social sector. In light of the dissolved PLC, the need for civil oversight over public spending arose, given its importance to every Palestinian. That is why we are trying to bolster the skills and expertise ofcivil society organizations so they have the ability to read the budget and therefore promote the concept of social accountability. “
Afana continued that the participants in the workshop represent the women and youth sectors in Palestine. He said these two sectors traditionally suffer from marginalization in terms of the public budget, which therefore made it necessary for them to participate in this training to “acquire the skills and expertise they don’t get at university and to mobilize their lobbying and advocay efforts towards calling for social justice in government spending..”
Meanwhile, MIFTAH project coordinator Hassan Mahareeq said the training workshop was part of the organization’s OXFAM-funded project “Finance for Development”, through which MIFTAH seeks the adoption of international transparency standards and the sustainability of interventions pertaining to the promotion of transparency for the public budget in Palestine as one pillar of good governance. This, he said, was through recruiting support and networking between civil society organizations, represented by the Civil Society Team on Public Budget Transparency. Mahareeq also said MIFTAH wanted to expand the Civil Society Team base through providing it with organizations with oversight and accountability tools, which are capable of monitoring the needs of the social sectors they represent, including youth and women. This is in order to identify their needs and guarantee their integration in public policies which would contribute to fulfilling their aspirations in exercising their citizenship and monitoring role over the management of public funds through social justice criteria.