The Palestinian Authority’s budget for fiscal year 2003 was presented Tuesday, December 31, to the Legislative Council (parliament) by Finance Minister Salam Fayyad. The $1.28 billion budget projects a $747 million deficit and $531 million revenues, most of which derived from external donor support.
The council’s deputies have been unable to convene in Ramallah over the past two years of violence due to Israeli travel bans and curfews, compelling the PA to operate without a new budget for the passing year 2002. A vote on the new annual budget is expected in a month’s time.
The Palestinian Gross Domestic Product (GDP), currently estimated at two billion dollars, is predicted to shrink another seven percent in 2003, signaling a further deterioration of standard of living for the 3.5 million Palestinians inhibiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Yasser Arafat had reshuffled his cabinet in June, against a backdrop of corruption and mismanagement accusations, both from within the Palestinian Authority as well as from external critics from the United States, the European Union and other foreign donors. Arafat voiced a commitment to transparency and accountability in the way the Palestinian budget, public funds and tax revenues are used.
The recently announced reform efforts in the PA's public finance system require a monthly disclosure of budgetary reports, an end to the use of cash in government transactions and salary payments, the inclusion of defense articles in the overall budget and proper procurement procedures in governmental agencies. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )