Participants in a meeting organized by the Coalition for Integrity and Accountability (Aman), yesterday at its headquarters in Ramallah, highlighted the necessity of the security apparatuses to develop bylaws and procedures to regulate their work and prepare their budget according to as the provisions of specified in the Public Budget Law (09) for 1998 and its amendments. In addition, budget implementation should be subject to due legal oversight compliance, and unifying the legal reference for the military establishment.
This workshop, entitled “Security Agencies Protect the Rule of Law and are Subject to it”, was held under Aman’s program for enhancing transparency and accountability in the public sector. It was attended by a number of official representatives from the security apparatuses, Public Oversight Bureau, and a number of relevant agencies.
Dr. Azmi Shu’aibi, Aman’s General Commissioner for Combating Corruption, presented the draft study that aims to review the working environment of the security apparatuses as public institutions governed by the provisions of the Palestinian law. The study also examines the extent of their commitment to the principles of transparency and accountability systems and the integrity values in the conduct of their personnel.
Dr. Shu’aibi stressed the importance of avoiding violations in the security establishment arising from the absence of rule of law or its enforcement and the lack of a unified reference for the security apparatuses. Problems also occur in the appointment and promotion of public personnel and their salary disbursement mechanisms of payment. Such a policy, maintains the General Commissioner, has led to significant inflation in the preparation of affiliates to security apparatuses whose numbers jumped in 2007 to approximately 82,000 employees allocated about 40% of PNA general public expenditures.
“The way of addressing these issues in the past have brought us to a very difficult position”, says Dr. Shua’ibi. “Controls and standards are virtually nonexistent and the resulting financial burden on the public budget unbearable. It is imperative to resort to the Basic Law since the security apparatuses personnel are also public sector employees.
The opening remarks by Aman’s Executive Director, Ms. Ghada Zughayer, reiterated the important role of these apparatuses in enforcing respect for the rule of law and protection of property of citizens. "No Palestinian would rejoice for a weak security institution". Indicators point out to a positive shift towards the reconciliation between the security apparatuses and the Palestinian public. “There is a long way to go that requires taking a number of steps and procedures to overcome difficulties exemplified by the multiple references, weak institutionalization, and individual decisions which by their very nature provide a suitable environment for the spread of corruption”. She also reiterated Aman keenness on cooperation with all sectors and deepening their relationships with public and civil institutions to strengthen the rule of law and commitment to its application without discrimination. Therefore, the Executive Director clarified that it is within this approach that Aman convened this workshop and other efforts.
The workshop featured a number of interventions by security apparatuses’ representatives who emphasized the importance of adherence to the law governing their work, stressing at the same time that the apparatuses should not be held accountable today for their chaotic and undisciplined performance in the past. At present, the security apparatuses are showing signs of actual development and real reform in their functions.
Mr. Mahmoud Aboud, the Director General of Military Financial Oversight Directorate, pointed out that a report is being prepared on the new phase where the past problems are being addressed and overcome. He stressed that financial management in carried out in accordance with the provisions of the law, whether in the areas of procurement of supplies, tendering and bidding, salary disbursement, and recruitment of personnel. He added that spending is made against a budget approved by the government and inconstant communication with the Ministry of Finance.
Mr. Faed Al-Sous, the Procurement and Supplies Director, confirmed that monitoring officer provide reports on storage and supply operations on a daily and weekly basis and that all offenders are held accountable to the law.
Mr. Ahmed Kanaan, the Human Capital Director in the Planning Unit at the Ministry of Interior presented the administrative and financial reforms being undertaken by the security apparatuses especially in the areas of personnel promotion, appointment, position descriptions and organizational structures.
Mr. Sufian Al Muhtasab, the Finance Director at the Intelligence, confirmed the existence of a law governing the apparatuses’ functions as well as good administrative and financial system which prepares and submits financial report to the President of the Palestinian National Authority.
Shehada Alawneh, the representative of the Financial and Administrative Oversight Bureau revealed that the Bureau’s has teams operating at the security apparatuses. He added that the public budget law does not exclude the security apparatuses but it is not implemented by them. This is in addition to a number of administrative deficiencies that must be addressed.
It should be noted that the draft study presented during the workshop offered a set of recommendations the most important of which suggest that the Council of Ministers should assume responsibility for and supervision of all security apparatuses, including leaders of the military.
The Council should issue the bylaws and regulations for applying the public service law to the security forces, particularly those relevant to appointment, promotion, and penalties. It is important to revise the basis on which promotions are decided and issue regulations for enforcement as soon as possible. The complaint system needs to be activated, opened for the public, and followed up effectively. Finally, an effective system of control is needed to be set up and a codes of conduct be established for the heads if security apparatuses, personnel and officers in addition to developing the managerial capacities of the administrative and financial personnel in each apparatus.
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