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UNCTAD supports Palestinian institutions to improve economic planning

16 June 2023

Palestinian professionals and policymakers equipped to use UNCTAD’s updated model for economic policy planning.

© Shutterstock/Anas-Mohammed A market in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

UNCTAD trained 10 experts from Palestinian institutions in May 2023 to use an updated economic forecasting model that takes into account economic changes in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In response to new economic developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, UNCTAD has updated its Integrated Simulation Framework (ISF), a tailor-made econometric model for Palestine.

The training held in the West Bank in May introduced new features of the ISF model to institutions and expert users.

During the pandemic, projections based on the ISF model proved more accurate for estimating the impact of COVID-19 on the Palestinian economy than projections provided by other institutions.

The updated model factors in the last three years of economic data, structural changes during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and includes an additional service sector, reflecting the territory’s services-dominated economy.

Participants in the training included forecasters and policymakers from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS), the Palestine Monetary Authority, the Palestine Ministry of Finance, researchers and academics.

Model forecasts key economic indicators

UNCTAD developed the first ISF model in 2009 and later donated it to the PCBS to forecast key economic indicators.

Palestinian policymakers and the private sector have used annual forecasts for economic and fiscal planning and to compare different policy options and scenarios.

The model is also used in formulating development strategies that align with the Sustainable Development Goals, contributing to progress and sustainability of the Palestinian economy.

Ola Awad, president of the PCBS, extended her appreciation to UNCTAD for excellent collaboration in developing economic models.

“Since 2009, these models have played a vital role in generating yearly economic forecasts and shaping the Palestinian economic landscape,” she said. “Our partnership has further facilitated policy development and provided valuable support to Palestinian policymakers.”

DMFAS boosts public financial management

UNCTAD also focused on its Debt Management and Financial Analysis System (DMFAS) programme, whose project aims to tackle Palestine’s growing and complex debt structure by enhancing the quality and scope of Palestinian public financial management.

The first phase of the project saw the system installed and user training provided at the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

In the second phase, at the request of the Palestinian government, DMFAS will be linked to the national economic and financial management system, enabling policymakers to track external debt and payment deadlines, and model different interest rate scenarios.

During the pandemic, UNCTAD offered virtual training and advisory services to Palestinian officials and professionals.

Raja Khalidi, director-general of MAS said: “The latest training session has allowed Palestinian economic policy practitioners from key institutions to develop their econometric modeling capacities and apply them to Palestinian economic realities, for both projection and policy analysis purposes.”

The collaboration between UNCTAD, MAS and other partners goes back many years, spanning a range of technical cooperation and advisory services.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, UNCTAD continues to provide analyses and advice to policymakers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, with a view to strengthening the Palestinian economy in an unstable environment characterized by a chronic fiscal crisis and rising political tension.