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EU contributes another 20 million Euro while corruption in PA continues

By Missing Peace

The European Union today announced that it would pay another 20 million Euro to the Palestinian Authority (see the press release below).  The money is meant to pay the salaries of the nearly 76.000  civil servants and pensioners in the PA.

The EU press release furthermore stated that ‘since February 2008, around €1.47 billion have been disbursed through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support programmes. In addition, the EU has provided assistance to the Palestinian people through UNRWA and a wide range of cooperation projects’.

The announcement  came a day after the publication of an article titled:’ Report Highlights Corruption In Palestinian Institutions’ written by the Palestinian journalist Hazem Balousha. His article summarized a report that was issued last month by the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (known as AMAN in Arabic). This report deals with corruption in the PA but received close to zero media attention.

The website ‘This ongoing war’ published some of the reports disclosures :

  • First and foremost: Presidential and parliamentary elections need to be held and are not.
  • Graft is the PA’s most common form of corruption. It is rampant because of the “absence of an official framework” and “lack of mechanisms“.
  • Beyond graft, there are also nepotism, favoritism and squandering of public funds. Also embezzlement of public funds, money laundering, forgery, breach of trust and abuse of office for personal gain. Overall, the PA suffers from a low level of transparency in its public, private and civil sectors.
  • Laws introduced to address problems in the inherently lucrative fields of public procurement and tenders have still not been implemented.
  • The report says PA officials “who refuse to abide by the High Court of Justice’s decision” should be tried for corruption, as the law requires.
  • Government vehicles are still being misappropriated by employees.
  • “Suspicions” have grown about the running of Palestinian Airlines. It flies from Egypt’s El-Arish airfield, and though it has only three aircraft (all received as gifts), public disclosures of money being stolen from inside have been rampant for years (example).
  • There are also “suspicions” (example) about the mausoleum for Arafat in Ramallah.
  • There is “concern” about the absence of a legal framework to govern “the activities of national security, intelligence and police agencies”. Some security chiefs still illegally hold leadership positions within political parties.
  • The budget for the PA’s security apparatus is “murky“. That budget “accounts for nearly one third of the Palestinian public budget” but is “comprised of only one figure, without details… of their revenues and expenses“. (In other words, a pork barrel.) The way expenses are managed in the security sector “provides opportunities for corruption to prevail”.
  • Palestinian universities are notably non-transparent. They fail “to disclose financial statements and administrative reports in a manner that raised rumors from time to time about their budgets and the mechanisms that they used to make decisions pertaining to filling executive positions”.
  • The Ministry of Health is “in a state of regression”. 
  • The important Water Resources and Energy ministries come in for particular concern about their corruption.
  • There are too many public institutions and they are consuming more than reasonable quanitities of resources. They should be shrunk to reduce the current high levels of the squandering of public funds.
  • The PA Public Prosecutor’s office “is not subject to oversight“. As a result, it loses most of the cases it brings before the High Court of Justice.
  • As for the political parties themselves, they mostly follow what the report calls “the traditional quota system for dividing senior government positions, representative organizations’ boards of directors memberships and posts in embassies abroad”.
  • And finally to the role of the president, Mahmoud Abbas: in the absence of a functioning parliament, his office relies on declaring laws and decrees and these are of doubtful constitutionality.

The press release about the new contribution says the following about reforms in the PA:

“The EU’s direct financial support to the Palestinian Authority is not merely a cash-injection. Taken together with our institution-building programmes our efforts are designed to achieve real reforms on the ground”.

Twelve years after President Bush first demanded real reforms  to make an end to the misuse of  foreign aid, corruption is still rampant in the PA.

The EU however continues to pour money in the PA and is proud that it helps to ‘achieve real reforms in on the ground’.