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Reform Program 2014

 

  1. Privatization and the public good: the issue of the privatization of basic services that usually has been the province of the state is the focus of this policy reform project.  While privatization may be somewhat of a misnomer in the sense that there was no state to speak of

    here, yet services like the Electricity Company and the Water Board were prototypes of national bodies for the ‘state-to-come’ and were thus seen as national projects.  The increasing privatization of these services needs to be examined and regulated for the benefit of citizens and for preserving national priorities. 

    The shrinkage of the role of the state under neo-liberal policies has often meant that the bulk of people’s needs have become subject to the over-riding imperative of maximization of profits that govern the private sector.  We have seen how dangerous this can be as the social systems of even advanced countries such as Spain, Greece and even the UK have been gutted out.  The Arab revolutions can be understood partially as an outcome and long delayed response to the abandonment by the state of large sectors of the population.  Syria is but the latest example that clearly shows how economic development and social rights can be skewed when neo-liberal privatization is introduced with the kind of blowback that it invites.  

    We need to ask what role we want for central government and how we can regulate privatization so that it can be subject to the priorities of peoples’ needs.  A private sector –LGU partnership has been touted as a way to finance local government.   While such schemes can help make LGU financially more autonomous this still needs to be integrated within a national economic plan for development in which all sectors of society have a say.  Already within the water sector there are complaints about the privatization of water resources.  Given the fragmentation of the land into A, B, C, the overlapping juridical systems that govern Area C and the interpenetration of Palestinian and Israeli capital that is developing, whole sale privatization can work not only to burden citizens for payment for services for private profit, but also to vitiate national goals of independent development. 

A policy reform group was convened to work on the project “Privatization and Public Goods”:  The members of this Policy Reform Group are:

  1. Dr Azmi Shuaibi, a consistent member of the Policy reform Group at Muwatin, an Expert in Good Governance and Former Member of PLC

  2. Mr. Jamil Hilal, Political consultant and Senior research fellow at Muwatin

  3. Dr. Raja Khalidi, an economic expert, formerly of UNCTAD.

  4. Dr. Ahmad Abu Dayyah, Political scientist (Coordinator for the group)

  5. Dr. George Giacaman, General Director of Muwatin,

  6. May Jayyusi, Executive Director of Muwatin

  7. Hada Aryan, Financial Officer at Muwatin

    A series of hearings with public officials who have been involved and are conversant with the issues of privatization and the problems attendant on that were held at Muwatin.  The invited persons were Dr Abdulrahman Tamimi General Director of the Palestine Hydrology group (31/05/2014), Dr. Omar Kitanah, head of the Palestinian Energy Authority (05/06/2015), Mr. Maher al-Masri the former Minister of Finance (13/08/2015), and Dr Samir Abdallah former Minister of Planning 16/08/2015).  What emerged was a rather grim reality of almost arbitrary decision making that takes as a given the subjugation of primary services of vital national importance such as energy and water to overarching Israeli control.

A paper on “Guiding principles to govern the privatization process” was prepared and revised and will be presented in draft form to different stakeholders.

Two TV symposia on the issue of privatization were organised to present the project and its findings.  The symposia were transmitted on Maan news channel and can be found on the Muwatin website 

B: Social Security program: The fate of the Social Security Law that was proposed by the government remains murky.  The strategy and thinking of the government has remained unclear.  The many starts and stops in the different proposals for the law, and the different moves made shows either that the government are as yet undecided what regarding what it is they want and are at best inept or that they are captive to special interests that consistently aim to derail the important safety net that the law was supposed to provide to the most disadvantaged sectors of society as a national priority. 

Muwatin has contracted with an advocacy consultant to pursue a public advocacy campaign to raise awareness around the issues and mobilize civil society support for the passage of an equitable Social Security law.  The consultant who was the legal expert who actually worked in the Policy reform group at Muwatin and who helped draft the law, has prepared a well thought out plan which has begun to be implemented.  Part of the problem as indicated above is that the issue appears only to disappear again, partly because of the perpetual crisis that afflicts the Palestinian lives. The war on Gaza disrupted what many thought would be the beginning of a new page in Palestinian political life after the end of Salam Fayyad’s rather controversial Prime Ministership and the swearing in of a Unity government.  The new government is rather colourless and seldom heard while the political leadership is floundering at best. So the ship of state seems to be rudderless and adrift.  Not many great initiatives can be undertaken under such conditions. Nonetheless the advocacy plan is well under way with three Tv symposia recorded with different experts and stakeholders.  The consultant has also prepared a newspaper article to map out the issues for the general readership to be published in al-Quds newspaper, and has prepared a small leaflet that spells out people’s rights under the Social Security Law prepared by Muwatin. Meetings with civil society members are planned and a public advocacy campaign will be implemented at the start of next year.

 

C. “Towards the Reform of Local Government” the research study and policy recommendations has been published

 

 

 

 

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