Why was the Palestine Public Finance Institute (PPFI) created?
Catherine Bonnaud: It is important to realize that Palestine is still involved in the process of building its institutions. In order for them to work, there must be a solid system of public finances to fund the government’s budget via taxes. That is why the Institute was created in 2010, to meet three objectives: increase tax collection, support the implementation of reforms by the Ministry of Finance, and restructure public organizations.
By request of the Palestinian Ministry of Finance, the Institute has been supported from the start by ADETEF, a French technical operator (Editor’s note: now a part of Expertise France) that provides expertise in managing public finances based on the French model.
In which ways does ADETEF, now Expertise France, support the Institute?
The AFD grant awarded in 2018 supports PPFI’s strategy for the 2017-2022 period, with a priority on training agents of the tax authorities (customs and taxes), companies, and public organizations. The aim is to expand the catalog of training courses available to all civil servants working for the Palestinian Ministry of Finance by supporting reforms to the government’s process of budget development and implementation as well as by anticipating the expected increase in the number of tax payers by training the required number of agents.
Ultimately, we would also like to make the Institute into a regional institution: its ambition is to become a regional training platform for public finance administrators in the region, not limited to the Palestinian state.
One of the primary challenges facing the Palestinian state is educating its people about the need for taxes...
Yes, and that’s why Expertise France is also helping the Institute develop campaigns to raise awareness about public finances among the private sector and young people respectively, working closely with the Palestinian Ministry of Education.
It is a crucial challenge since most of the financial flows in Palestine are still informal. To do this, the Institute plans to offer classes on the civic duty of paying taxes and presenting budget expenses, and to create tools to train companies on their relationship with the tax authorities.