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Palestine: Cabinet decision on government vehicles will save the Treasury of the Palestinian Authority more than 30 million Shekels yearly

The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity- AMAN received the decision of the Palestinian Council of Ministers to limit use of all government vehicles with great pleasure and enthusiasm. The decision entails that government vehicles are to be used for work purposes and during work hours only. The decision is applicable to all officials with the exception of the Ministers and Deputy Ministers. The number of vehicles granted to government officials at the various levels is estimated at 6200 vehicles.

Several reasons brought about the Council’s decision. One important reason was the request submitted by AMAN to the Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad, to stop this phenomenon, which consumes the public treasury and projects a negative image of PNA officials entrusted with public funds. The request was put forth following a full fledge campaign carried out by AMAN, November-December of 2009, to support the Ministry of Transportation’s initiative which called for citizens monitoring and reporting on government vehicles used after working hours. The campaign lasted for several months and included many activities such as awareness raising workshops, radio spots, billboards, newspaper ads, meetings and symposiums. More importantly, AMAN made available its Advocacy and Legal Advice Center hotline to facilitate citizens reporting of violation of vehicles uses.

The second incentive was to put a stop to those who abuse their privileges and use these vehicles for personal purposes hence violating the law as well as ethical social norms. A third reason is to save the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) millions of shekels monthly spent on maintenance, fuel, registration fees and insurance. In fact, the amount spent on fuel and maintenance alone for 2009 reached a total of 90 million shekels; money, which the PNA could have utilized to enhance the education and health sectors, for example.

While we highly value reform steps taken that aim to guide and correctly channel spending of public funds within PNA institutions, hence drying up sources of corruption, we call upon the government to take decisions and put forth instructions and procedures that will stop “special” appointments and promotions in addition to what has become known as the “ ghost” employee. It is worth noting that AMAN, during its annual conference, reported that there are 15,000 employees who receive monthly salaries from the PNA’s treasury estimated at tens of millions of shekels, who do not work or they live abroad.

In conclusion, while AMAN would like to reiterate its readiness and willingness to continue its support and cooperation with all parties, especially with the Ministry of Transportation, it would like to emphasize the following. First, to ensure the implementation of the Government’s decision justly and equally and without discrimination. Secondly and more importantly, to point out that the success of reform efforts requires joint efforts of all authorities, institutions, and civil society organizations as well as media and responsible citizens.

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Rami Mousa
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