The decisions of the laws relating to the retirement of those with a minister rank have opened many issues related to legislation, transparency, accountability, public administration, as well as the government’s sensitivity to responding to societal debate.
Written by: Jehad Harb
The decisions of the laws relating to the retirement of those with a minister rank have opened many issues related to legislation, transparency, accountability, public administration, as well as the government’s sensitivity to responding to societal debate. It is true that the government did not participate in the wording of the amendment of the retirement law or the amendment of the politicians’ retirement law; but, it was late in taking the necessary action to stop it through claiming the government’s exclusive constitutional rights to propose laws, according to the Basic Law, especially under the dissolution of the Legislative Council. There was an objection against the discriminatory texts that were in favor of a specific and limited group of public employees, of whom include “those who are in the rank of a minister, heads of non-ministerial government bodies, and their equivalent” through extending the employment age to sixty-five, as they would obtain pension salaries without paying contributions. As a result, there would be potential damage to the investment capacity of the retirement fund due to the failure to supply their contributions and government contributions, which would allow others to evade this commitment in the future. There would also be a high financial cost that the public treasury will incur in the future, as a result of implementing these two decisions, especially in light of the difficult financial conditions of the Palestinian Authority and the government’s austerity measures to confront the economic difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and its profound social implications.
On the other hand, the Palestinian government and its Prime Minister expressed high sensitivity, which is important, to the positions of the Palestinian public, angry at the injustice inflicted on the special rule law. There is no doubt that the suggestion of these laws, the protest and the victory that happened after their cancellation created an opportunity for a serious, fundamental and bold discussion on various issues related to public administration. The issue of the politicians’ retirement including: “ministers, deputies, and then governors,” was raised again to cancel this type of retirement, which is exhausting the public treasury and wasting taxpayers’ money.
This discussion reinforced the understanding behind retirement as a solidarity action, where people contribute during their youth age and get paid, “harvest,” when employees reach a specific age, according to the law and it is not an exception that any politician can get from anyone.
It also opened the matter to review the retirement age, in terms of strict commitment, to stop the extension of contracts for employees who have exceeded the age of sixty years-old, especially for those who are in senior management positions such as, heads of bodies, institutions, and deputy ministers. This aims to ensure respect for the Civil Service Law and the Retirement Law and guarantee that there is new blood pumped into the presidency of bodies and institutions and high positions in the ministries. It also seeks to protect the right of employees to reach decision-making levels in order to encourage employees to exert more effort during their years of service and to open the way for competition amongst one another in regard to performance excellence.
I believe that the discovery of these two decisions calls on the government to become more transparent by launching a platform for legislation, in which the bills are displayed on the Council of Ministers’ website to obtain opinions and attitudes of citizens and civil society organizations. This can also become a tool for measuring public attitudes and public participation in policy-making.
This decision surfaced the abnormal proliferation of non-ministerial government institutions in terms of numbers, formulas, internal structure and leadership, and overlaps in the terms of reference and privileges obtained by their superiors and the nature of their appointment.
This is an opportunity for the government to look objectively, without personal sensitivities or authoritarian tendencies, to prevent duplication, rationalize expenditures, protect public money, grace the public service and improve the quality of services. It may also be considered to set time limits for the duration for the head of an institution or body to remain in their position such as, the Office of Financial and Administrative Control, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Monetary Authority.
The government can also define loyalty-based jobs, i.e. employees and advisors, whose service ends with the expiry of the political term, whether the head of state, prime minister, ministers, or deputies, without encumbering the general function of assigning political appointments based on loyalty to political people.
At the same time, it protects public officials from competing for politicians’ satisfaction and maintains their job immunity and professionalism when presenting opinions and positions through work or advice provided to officials on their part.
The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or donor.