Director General Majdi Khalde of the MPIC has identified three
areas in urgent need of technical and financial support: strategic
development planning, institution-building and human resource
development, and scientific and technical planning. Three departments in
the planning division of the MPIC are to be created for these purposes.
While in Gaza, I drafted a proposal for technical assistance in
creating an economic planning unit, which in my opinion has the highest
priority of the three areas. The proposal has short and long term
implications. In the long term, the proposal may be funded by an
international donor and executed by an agency of the donor's choice.
Alternatively, the proposed planning activities could be part of the
larger proposal the ISEPME is making to the World Bank, for execution by
ISEPME and HIID.
In either case, short-term consultations are recommended in order
to help the Ministry define its role in formulating economic policies
and creating a planning capability. A senior economist with extensive
experience in planning should visit Gaza and the West Bank in late March
for two weeks, in order to determine priority tasks for a planning unit
and initial human resource requirements. Local availability of qualified
people should be assessed, in government and non-government
institutions, and an agenda drawn up of technical assistance
requirements to supplement local skills for the ensuing six to ten
months, assuming it would take that long for any donor to respond to the
MPIC technical assistance proposal.
I would recommend Dr. Edgar O. Edwards for this assignment. He is
currently in Nairobi and can be reached by telephone, or fax.
Secondly, to help the MPIC establish a department of
institution-building and human resource development, I would propose to
return to Gaza for two weeks in March. I would work with Edwards (and
probably Steve Peterson on budget) and would assist Dr. Salem al Kourd,
the person invited to set up that department. Working with Dr. al Kourd,
we would survey local training resources, identify donor interest in
supporting training locally and abroad, and initiate a process of
identifying priority training requirements of PNA agencies. First
priority would go to defining training requirements of MPIC staff, but
the Ministry also intends to assist other agencies to meet their
The third immediate action recommendation is to arrange
short-term training opportunities for MPIC and Ministry of Finance
staff. You suggested that six or seven candidates could be supported to
attend HIID workshops in such areas as public budgeting, tax
administration, project appraisal and environmental economics. This idea
was warmly welcomed by officials of both ministries. Brochures were left
with Dr. Amin Baidoon, Director General of the International Cooperation
division and temporary head of the budget process. We may need to fax
him to remind of the need to submit candidates for courses.
Dr. Baidoon also expressed great interest in training in
diplomacy or negotiations. The Harvard program on conflict resolution
may offer short courses or workshops that would meet MPIC immediate
In the medium term, ISEPME will want to explore funding
possibilities for a program combining economic advisory services and
institutional capacity-building in economic management to the PNA as a
whole. The MPIC would be one important focus of such a program, as would
the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy. A proposal for this
program needs to be formulated and discussed with Palestinian
authorities prior to offering it to the World Bank. The Bank would be
invited to fund the proposal, or to assist ISEPME in arranging funding
from donor resources.
Proposal development could be advanced by the proposed March
visits to Gaza by Edwards, Nelson and Peterson. Subsequent short-term
consultancies should be arranged in order to maintain momentum in
assisting the MPIC and Ministry of Finance to improve their functioning,
and in order to shape the longer-term program to fit PNA needs and
A second medium-term activity would be to support the efforts of
the MPIC to define long-term goals of the society as a basis for
planning. The idea of appointing a commission on national goals was
received with interest by Minister Nabil Shaath and his Directors
General, as well as by Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, but it is unlikely to be
acted upon without further elaboration and discussion. Majdi Khalde
would like me to discuss this idea with a group of leading thinkers in
Gaza on my next visit.
One aspect of this goal-setting process would be consideration of
alternative models or strategies for development. The ISEPME project
could facilitate that process by arranging visits by people who could
present successful experiences of their countries in various sectors or
in overall strategies. HIID knows many of the leading economic leaders
in Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Chile, who could make
effective public presentations.
A third medium-term activity again involves training. Depending
upon how advisory work proceeds in the tax and budget areas, HIID
workshops in these fields could be presented in Gaza under Ministry of
Finance auspices for staff of the Ministry and of other ministries
engaged in budgeting. These workshops should be part of a general effort
to improve the economic management capacity of PNA agencies.
In the long run, the ISEPME program should engage in the
systematic development of economic management capacities of PNA
agencies. Resource constraints will affect the choice of activities, but
a good start has been made in the area of tax administration. Budgeting,
economic planning, and human resource development strategies are next on
the agenda. Other agencies are already at work in the areas of
environmental planning and physical planning. Strengthening
institutional capacities of appropriate units in the government will
allow the PNA to perform more effectively.
At the same time, the PNA will need continuing high-level advice
on policy issues. An advisory council could be formed of economists from
Harvard and MIT, to work with the committee of Ministers dealing with
budget policy at the present time. This committee, composed of Ministers
of Planning, Finance and Economy, will set the economic course of the
PNA. A combined approach by ISEPME, providing periodic policy advice to
the committee of Ministers and providing technical assistance and
training to units in each of their Ministries, would be ideal, if it
could be afforded.
To summarize recommended actions:
Edgar O. Edwards for two weeks in March to help identify priority
planning-unit tasks, assess available human resources, and design
strategy for supplementing local skills during the six to ten months
before a long term assistance program can be mounted.
Courtney Nelson for two weeks in March to work with Edwards and
to help launch a department for institution-building and human resource
development in the MPIC.
Arrange participation of six or seven PNA officials in
appropriate HIID summer workshops.
Explore availability at Harvard of workshops on negotiations and
Design program for economic management capacity-building and
economic advisory services for the PNA as a whole, and seek funding for
Support MPIC efforts to define long-term goals of the society as
a basis for planning. Assist MPIC to design a process for goal-setting,
and supply experienced visitors from successful Asian and Latin American
countries to elucidate their successes.
Present HIID workshops in areas such as budgeting and tax
administration in Gaza.
Implement a two-pronged program of (1) providing high-level
economic policy advice to a committee of senior PNA ministers and (2)
building the economic management capacities of key units, such as those
charged with tax administration, budgeting, planning, and human resource