One month has passed since the deadline for government submittal of the budget draft law to the PLC, in order for it to be to discussed and voted on.
According to local Palestinian newspapers, the delay has ensued from the resignation of ministers who have given up their ministerial posts in order to run for PLC elections.
The Finance Minister in particular, who also resigned, requested to postpone the submitting of the budget draft law by a further three months.
The first paragraph in the third article of the general budget law states that “The Cabinet must submit budget draft law to the PLC at least two months before the beginning of the new financial year”; the first article states that “the financial year begins in January and ends on December 31st”, which means that the budget draft law of this year should have been submitted by October 31st 2005.
It wasn't submitted, however by today, Thursday December 1st.
Considering the difficult economic, social and political conditions that Palestinians are enduring, delaying the submitting of the budgetary draft law may provoke public anxiety.
This was the case last year, where the budgetary draft law was submitted on 16th March and thus greatly affected the approval on the budget itself; the PLC did not reject the draft law, but made some minor amendments.
The resignation of six ministers due to their running for the January 25th PLC elections, and in particular the resignation of the Minister of Finance before having submitted the draft law, has reduced belief in the government's capability to implement project on time.
It is important to consider that current PLC members are also running for elections and will be engaged in electoral campaigns, which will stop the regular functioning of the PLC.
Adding to articles 3 and 4 of the budget law and article 74 of the PLC law No 7 of 1998, article 62 and 90 of the main law statutes state: The Cabinet should submit the Budget draft law to the PLC two months before the beginning of the new financial year.
The PLC should hold a session to discuss the budget draft law in light of the committee report and recommendations, and thus either affect modifications before the new financial year, or return the draft law to the Cabinet for no longer than a month, along with Cabinet's comments, and receive it back to the PLC no longer than two weeks later.
Voting on the draft law must be done section by section.
Shifting daft law sections should occur only after agreement between the PLC and the executive authority.
The budget is a vital instrument to define government policies over the financial year and determine to what extent a government gives priority and interest to diverse sectors under the current Palestinian economic and social situation.
Al Mezan believes that the government should give priority to the budget draft law before the PLC elections, and that the PLC should have placed pressure on the government to submit the draft law after having set a fixed date for the PLC elections.
Thus, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights calls upon the following bodies to: First: the government To be committed to organizing the General Budget and submitting the draft law.
To take into consideration the social needs within service sectors with respect to citizens, notably their right to education, health, housing, and work.
Second: The PLC To call on the government to submit the budget draft law in accordance with the law, as delays may weaken the PLC ability to supervise its implementation, as has been seen in previous years.
To pass the draft law if it meets citizens needs or refuse it if it does not, thus pressuring the government to implement a clear social and economic program.
Third: Civil Society and political parties To give special attention to stages of the draft law and highlight its importance for citizens.
To place pressure on the government to submit the budget draft law in accordance with the law; the PLC must submit and pass a draft law which meets citizen needs.
To specify critical needs and submit them to the government and PLC Delays in submitting the budget draft law is illegal and can provoke financial irregularities within the ministries and governmental institutions, and thus confusion in institutional performance.
Spending must occur according to what has been spent during the same month of the previous year, regardless of whether projects are still being implemented which should have been finished.
This kind of delay affects the quantity and quality of services, most notably the services sector which is the sector most damaged, due to the delaying of the budget draft law and increasing needs within this sector.