As part of its project “Finance for Development”, MIFTAH, in partnership with AMAN and Arij and with support from OXFAM, recently held a two-day workshop entitled “Preparing budgets through a participatory approach and gender perspective”. The workshop was aimed at promoting the role of civil society in monitoring the general budget along with reading and analyzing budgets based on a participatory approach and social justice in public spending. Ultimately, the goal was to raise the level of government performance towards adopting standards of international transparency for budgets.
According to MIFTAH project manager Abeer Zaghari, the workshop succeeded in offering knowledge to the participants, including members of the Civil Society Team for Promoting Budget Transparency, on the theoretical and applied fundamentals of the general budget in terms of its definition, structure, economic and social implications and relationship with general and sectoral planning. The participants were also given information on the methodological and technical discrepancies between conventional budgets and participatory and gender responsive ones, in addition to ways of changing a conventional budget to a development-oriented one. The participants were briefed on the details of the Palestinian budget and the various responsibilities of official parties in its preparation, execution and monitoring. They were introduced to the most prominent structural problems, which prevent core changes to the budget that would otherwise render it more just towards the needs of the various sectors in society and development priorities. Meanwhile, the necessary and possible interventions were discussed by the civil society team at the different stages of the budget’s cycle in order to impact its economic and social implications.
It should be mentioned that the participants had various levels of knowledge about the budget in general.
The participants recommended holding more workshops for further capacity development programs to enhance their knowledge about participatory and gender budgeting and acquire more technical details about it. They said an in-depth knowledge is necessary in order to determine the necessary interventions from the civil society team. The additional training would help to raise the level of the new members to match the other members who have already acquired previous knowledge from prior trainings.
The participants also said it was necessary to hold a second training for the same group to highlight and discuss a number of programs and budgets from different ministries; they would be introduced to the ministries’ approaches in building their programs and how their budgets are allocated and distributed. The training would also include hosting those responsible for preparing these programs. This way, the participants would have a better idea about the practical sides of budget preparation.
They also suggested looking into a number of possible practical interventions in the process of budget preparation during the civil society team meeting, and to consider these interventions imperative while the ministries are preparing their budgets. Perhaps, one of these interventions could be writing a focused and concise position paper directed to the finance ministry and the president’s office to pressure them to commit to decisions made to transform the budget into a gender programed-budget and also to urge them to give the opportunity to the civil team to participate in the process of preparing the budget before it is passed as law.