The repercussions of delaying the disbursement of social development allocations.

The International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights

The International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights

ICSPR

 

 Position Paper on:

 

The repercussions of delaying the disbursement of social development allocations.

 

By/ Rami Mohsen

 

Oct 2021

 

 

 

 Introduction:

The Ministry of Social Affairs was established under the first ministerial formation in July 1994, where its work is regulated by the Jordanian Ministry of Social Affairs Law No. (14) of 1956, which is the ministry responsible for social issues in the State of Palestine, such as addressing poverty, organizing charitable societies, and sponsoring and supporting the poor, weak and marginalized groups, comprehensive development, social security, improvement of the living conditions of the population, relief those affected by disasters and other social issues in Palestine, including managing the social protection sector and coordinating efforts with partners, providing protection and care services for children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities, and enhancing social cohesion by combating poverty, marginalization and social exclusion, and combating negative phenomena such as violence, homelessness, beggary and drug abuse[1].

According to the ministry’s website, it seeks to create a decent life in a cohesive Palestinian society by achieving sustainable human development through protection, care, prevention, empowerment and awareness programs, which are based on a rights-based approach, and in a manner that guarantees transparency and justice, in order to strengthen the resilience of citizens and maintain cohesion, solidarity and social protection[2].

In the context of achieving its goals, the Ministry of Social Development undertakes many services, including the cash transfer program, which aims to enhance the ability of beneficiary families to meet their basic needs, as it targets families that fall below the extreme poverty line, as well as marginalized families that fall between the national and extreme poverty lines, specifically, families that include people with disabilities, the elderly, orphans, people with chronic diseases, or families headed by females.

The aforementioned program – cash transfers – provides cash assistance to more than (115) thousand families, of which (74) thousand families are in the Gaza Strip and (41) thousand in the West Bank, at the rate of (4) financial payments annually, meaning one payment every (3 months) with a total of (134) million shekels for each payment, (536) million shekels annually. The Palestinian government’s contribution to each payment is estimated at more than (90) million shekels, while the European Union’s contribution to each payment is estimated at about (44) million shekels[3].

The share of the beneficiary families ranges between 750 to 1,800 shekels, according to the number of family members and their conditions, according to the social research process carried out by the Ministry of Social Development once every three months, but in light of facts and data, the disbursement process is often delayed under various pretexts, which increases the suffering of beneficiary families who are already living in tragic conditions.

The data indicate that the beneficiary families received the last cash payment on May 5, 2021, during which a unified amount of (750) shekels was disbursed to all families, while the previous payment was on December 24, 2020, contrary to the program’s philosophy that requires families to receive their cash allocations once every three months.

According to media statements by the Minister of Social Development, Ahmed Majdalani: until this moment, there is nothing new regarding the date of disbursing the allocations, explaining that the reason for the delay in disbursing the second payment is related to the financial crisis that the Palestinian government is suffering from, and that the European Union has not contributed since the beginning of this year[4].

In turn, the analyst and economic expert, “Osama Nofal”, expressed his astonishment at the government’s double-dealing with groups of the society, as when the salaries of employees in the public sector are delayed, it resorts to debt, but when it comes to social affairs allocations, it does nothing[5].

With regard to the administrative body for the defense of the rights of the beneficiaries of social affairs, it confirmed that the suffering of families has begun since 2017, due to the reduction of their entitlements from (4) to (3) payments annually, and in this year “2021”, only one unified payment was delivered of (750) shekels for all beneficiary families, and it called to regulate the disbursement of social affairs allocations on time[6].

Repercussions:

 

Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 25 also states: That: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family.

Article 22 of the Palestinian Basic Law and its amendments stipulate that: Social, health, disability and retirement insurance shall be regulated by law. Maintaining the welfare of families of martyrs, prisoners of war, the injured and the disabled is a duty that shall be regulated by law. The National Authority shall guarantee these persons education, health and social insurance. On the other hand, the accession of the State of Palestine to treaties and conventions gives it an international commitment to safeguarding the rights of its citizens, especially in the field of social and economic rights and protection from risks, in a manner that ensures an adequate standard of living.

The citizens’ enjoyment of the above-mentioned rights on the basis that they are guaranteed rights by the state would enhance the respect and dignity of the human, and develop a feeling of citizenship, especially since the link between the provision of a social security system based on securing an adequate standard of living and human rights in international conventions did not come from a vacuum. Respecting human beings and providing them with adequate aid when needed is a sincere expression of the state’s respect for the rights of its citizens.

The deduction and the delay in the disbursement of social affairs allocations to date, in light of the irrational justification of the concerned authorities, carries no explanation other than their disregard for the lives, dignity and feelings of the poor.

The deduction and the delay in the disbursement process have been accompanied by dangerous and catastrophic developments in the overall human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, which have caused a sharp deterioration in various aspects of life, especially in the Gaza Strip, which suffers from a suffocating and illegal Israeli siege for the fifteenth year in a row, the Israeli military aggression in May 2021 and the tightening of restrictions, and the widespread and systematic destruction of defenseless citizens’ private properties, public properties, vital facilities and the already fragile infrastructure.

The above challenges, in addition to the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the precautionary measures accompanying it have left undesirable repercussions on various sectors, foremost of which is the economic sector, which is expressed in the growth of indicators of poverty and unemployment, and the food insecurity that 2/3 of the population of Gaza strip suffer[7], and now depriving the poor and needy of their financial allocations, which exacerbated the severity of the crisis and its consequences for them, and for the society as well.

Providing “financial allocations to beneficiaries on a regular basis, especially in these tragic circumstances, will contribute to improving the living conditions of poor families, and will enhance their ability to meet their basic needs, especially since the irregular payment has limited their ability to provide for their needs, at a time when the costs of daily life doubled, especially after the opening of schools and the decision to go to face-to-face education”[8].

Conclusion:

There is no doubt that the delay under the current circumstances may be indicative of indifference to the fate and life of this segment, which deserves attention and protection as a legal obligation on the shoulders of the concerned authorities in the country, especially since the justification “the lack of enough money in the public treasury” refuted by the realities of the situation in light of the system of management of public money, marred by corruption and a decline in governance, transparency and participation. For example, senior positions continue to be assigned through promotion, appointment and extension, without the slightest respect for the principle of equal opportunities, these senior positions include ambassadors, non-ministerial institutions, assistant agents, assistant attorney generals, judges, governors[9], and general managers, in addition to petty cash and burdensome budgets at the expense of the poor, and without taking into account their minimum rights to a decent life.

 Recommendations:

  1. Demanding the Palestinian government to expedite the payment of cash allocations to poor families in a retroactive manner, and to ensure that they are paid periodically and regularly in a way that preserves their inherent human dignity.
  2. Calling on the Palestinian government to review and evaluate its existing policies in the field of facing poverty and destitution, including the introduction of productive and effective policies, instead of the current policies to achieve the desired social development.
  3. Work to strengthen social justice, based on providing a decent life for citizens in general, and for the poor and needy in particular, including distributing the burdens of occupation on all citizens of the Palestinian people under occupation.
  4. Reconsidering the structure of the general budget of the Palestinian Authority, and the distribution of allocations to the various sectors, including giving greater attention to the social sector.
  5. The necessity of providing an opportunity for a societal discussion about the public budget before its approval, and the government respecting its commitments to the partnership approach with civil society, especially since the largest resource for the public budget in Palestine is the citizen himself[10].
  6. The need to raise national voices against corruption, nepotism, waste and embezzlement of public money, and to strengthen governance, transparency, equal opportunities, citizenship and equality, which will positively affect the rights of the poor and fragile social classes.

 

[1] State of Palestine, Council of Ministers, https://cutt.us/sbw2y

[2] Ministry’s website, https://cutt.us/Sz7Kh

[3] State of Palestine, Ministry of Social Development, https://cutt.us/px82x

[4] Sabq 24 news, Majdalani speaking to “Sabq24” about disbursing social affairs allocations, August 5, 2021, https://cutt.us/HHLmK

[5] Palestine online,  calling the authority to borrow to disburse social affairs allocations, July 31, 2021, https://cutt.us/CouHS

[6] Amad Media, Gaza: demands for regular social welfare payments to be paid on time, September 4, 2021, https://cutt.us/d3tNC

[7] United Nations website, May 19, 2021, https://cutt.us/cXvAP

[8] Press release: Al Mezan Center calls for expediting the disbursement of cash assistance to poor families, and warns of the repercussions of delaying it on their living conditions, August 24, 2021, https://cutt.us/mkBFf

[9] The Coalition for Integrity and Accountability (Aman), Annual Report (13), “The Reality of Integrity and Anti-Corruption, Palestine 2020”, p. 31.

[10] The Coalition for Integrity and Accountability (Aman), Citizens Budget, 2017, p. 20.