Dr Bandar Hajjar, the Chairman of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group and Chairman of the Shareholders Board for the Economic Empowerment Fund for the Palestinian People, inaugurated the constitutive virtual meeting of the Fund, marking the official starting signal for the activities of the Fund, which was established to empower and support the steadfastness of the Palestinian people on their land.
Dr Hajjar reaffirmed IsDB’s commitment as founder and manager of the Fund to working jointly and earnestly with all partners to ensure a successful start for the Fund towards achieving its goals in accordance with the highest professional standards and the best practices of good governance.
Dr Hajjar, who is the originator of the international initiative to develop, disseminate and streamline the economic empowerment model among IsDB Member Countries, emphasised that the Economic Empowerment Fund for the Palestinian People was the first true building block towards achieving socio-economic development through economic empowerment.
He stated that the IsDB decided to contribute $100 million to the Fund’s capital, while the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) contributed $52 million, and the Al-Aqsa Fund followed suit with a contribution of $13 million. Subsequently, the IsDB approached other shareholders from the Palestinian public and private sectors, with a number of prestigious institutions being invited to join this blessed endeavour. Hence, the Palestinian Investment Fund contributed $25 million and the Palestine Prosperity Fund $30 million.
In addition, the IsDB is working hard on an ambitious plan to mobilise additional resources and attract other shareholders with a view to mobilising the declared Fund capital of $500 million.
The Economic Empowerment Fund for the Palestinian People aims to empower economically over 300,000 Palestinian families, or 1.5 million Palestinians, over the next decade, to reach a target contribution equivalent to 5% to 10% of GDP, through supporting local production sectors to reduce imports from the occupying power.
As for the next step to strengthen the Fund, Dr Hajjar stated that it would be capacity-building for the Fund through developing its investment policy, operations and procedures manuals, organisational structure, as well as governance mechanisms. This is in addition to initiating the work to finalise an investment map based on comparative advantages of the Palestinian economy, to guide the Fund in the selection of high value-added and labour-intensive strategic sectors. He said that the presence of experienced partners in the Palestinian market, such as the Investment Fund and the Prosperity Fund, would no doubt be of great help to the Fund during the upcoming capacity-building phase and would facilitate the work of the advisory team that would be set up for this purpose. He further stressed that attention would be given to the human capital as the Fund works to attract the best talents according to the recruitment plan to be adopted later.
Dr Hajjar stressed the importance of good governance and the need for the Fund to adhere to the best standards and practices of governance followed globally by similar development funds to ensure the Fund's transparency, integrity and independence, which are important keys to encourage and mobilise partnerships and other resources to further strengthen the Fund and help it achieve its goals in the specified timeframe set for it.