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 During a workshop organized by the Institute of  Public Policies

Demands to adopt mechanisms to strengthen the Palestinian economy and overcome its shortcomings

 Ramallah - Participants in a workshop entitled "The Palestinian Economy between Reality and Ambition", organized by the Institute of  Public Policies  (IPP), in partnership with the German Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung  (FES), called for the adoption of public policies and measures that contribute to advancing economic activity in the region. Palestine, and addressing the imbalances and shortcomings that it suffers from on more than one level.

The workshop, which was organized virtually using the Zoom application, is the first in the Public Policy Forum, organized by the Institute for the second year in a row.

The workshop was attended by the Professor of Banking and Finance at Kadoorie University, Dr. Muhammad Abu Amsha, and the President of the Consumer Protection Association in the Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate Salah Haniyeh, in addition to the Chairman of the Institute’s Board of Directors, Dr. Mohamed Odeh, and member of the Board of Directors, Dr. Abdullah Al-Najjar, and Director of Programs at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung  Rasmus Brandt.

In his intervention on the "parallel economy and its effects on the national economy", Abu Amsha talked about the concept of the "shadow economy", explaining that it is one of the old-new phenomena that societies have suffered - and still are suffering- whether they are developed or developing.

He pointed out that the shadow economy -parallel economy- is very important to the national economy, because of its impact on many sectors, as it consists of all legal and illegal economic activities in the market, pointing to the vitality of understanding the relationship between it and the official economy.

He presented some definitions of the shadow economy, focusing on the reasons for not registering activities in many cases, such as tax evasion, attributing the growth of this economic pattern to unfair tax and political systems, lack of wages and material and moral incentives, and the complexity of administrative and regulatory procedures in the formal labor market, as well as the high level of unemployment, and other factors.

He focused on the positive and negative impacts of the shadow economy's activities on the official economy, and its estimation methods, then he spoke about the shadow economy in Palestine, saying that its components include the activities of the informal sector, in addition to illegal activities such as money laundering, fraud, corruption and embezzlement of public funds, economic crimes, commercial fraud, counterfeit checks and banknotes crimes, and others.

He explained that the shadow economy causes a lot of money to be wasted, which was supposed to go to the state treasury, enabling the government to fulfill its various obligations.

He urged the government to adopt a strategy to integrate the shadow economy into the official economy, by putting in place laws that contribute to achieving this goal, in addition to working to amend the Paris Economic Agreement.



National Product Protection

For his part, Haniyeh spoke about "protecting the national product and boycotting Israeli products", pointing to the high volume of imports from the Israeli side, amounting to $4.2 billion annually.

He believed that campaigns to boycott Israeli products are not permanent and institutionalized, and therefore take the form of "spikes", meaning that they are temporary and linked to specific events, pointing to the efforts of consumer protection associations to raise awareness of the importance of the boycott, and the need to support the national product.

He pointed out that the government possesses many measures and tools that allow it to protect the Palestinian market and support national products in the face of the policy of dumping Israeli products, such as imposing heavy penalties on anyone who smuggles settlement products.

He also pointed out that there is a role for industrialists in supporting the national product and promoting the boycott issue, by focusing on quality, and upgrading packaging and promotion operations, pointing in turn to the consumer's role in giving more impetus to the boycott in concept and practice.

He believed that "the basis of the boycott is the government and the private sector, not the consumer," noting that the government should announce a clear position on supporting and encouraging Palestinian products, expanding industrial zones, encouraging investment and non-tariff barriers.

He said: Municipalities and non-governmental institutions should clearly declare that they do not deal with Israeli products in their bids and purchases, adding, "Popular and civil institutions should be the safety valve, by institutionalizing the act of boycotting Israeli products."

The workshop, which began with a speech by Odeh, in which he indicated that the workshop is part of a series of workshops that will be organized by the Institute during the coming period, dealing with various files related to the Palestinian economy, with a focus on the public policies required to advance it, within the framework of the Institute’s role, activity and specialization.

He pointed to the importance of developing well-thought-out public policies that meet the needs of society, especially in emergency circumstances, as is the case for Palestine, noting the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economic reality in Palestine.

He stated that the Institute, in cooperation with its partners, decided to focus, through two successive workshops, on the main themes related to the Palestinian economic crisis, while linking this file to the issue of public policies.

Al-Najjar provided an overview of the institute, and its activities, launched in 2006, with the aim of covering the lack of theoretical and applied production in the field of public policies, to help decision makers by presenting practical policy models in all fields.

For his part, Brandt stressed the importance of the workshop, for dealing with the economic file, noting that the German institution, which has a long history in the field of global labor movements, is concerned with strengthening the Palestinian economy.

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