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August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘budget’

Cabinet Passes 2015-2016 Budget, DM Ya’alon Abstains

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

The Cabinet passed the 2015-2016 budget early Thursday morning after a long day of wrangling and debating.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was the only holdout, abstaining due to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s support for recommendations by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to set the defense budget at NIS 55.3 billion for 2016. Kahlon conditioned on raising the budget to NIS 59 billion on the adoption of the recommendations of the Locker Committee.

The Locker Commission, headed by Maj.-Gen. (res) Yochanan Locker last year issued a 77-page report calling for massive across-the-board cuts to the IDF budget. Included were 53 recommendations on budget savings and “efficiency reforms” totaling NIS 9.6 billion annually between 2016 and 2020 that Locker said could be “reinvested” as new funds by the IDF.

Among the recommendations were cuts to pensions for IDF non-combat officers, capping the defense budget at NIS 59 billion, limiting mandatory service for men to two years and 11 percent cuts in personnel.

The IDF viewed the recommendations as short-sighted, pointing out the new challenges facing the military such as the need for advanced development of cyber defense, Iron Dome anti-missile training and technology and similar cutting-edge financial needs. At the time, Ya’alon also said the commission’s recommendations were incompatible with the threats facing Israel which have not decreased but rather, have only changed.

Additions to Israel’s present budget were made throughout the day on Wednesday to individual budgets in ministries where coalition promises had been made.

The ministers had already been warned ahead of time by Netanyahu that the government would collapse if they did not stop their demands and get behind the budget.

From the outset, on Tuesday, Netanyahu said bluntly, “The State of Israel will have a budget because otherwise it will not have a government and our economic and security situation will deteriorate. Demands always exceed what there is but in the end, the right decisions are made. We will do so this time as well.”

An extra NIS 8 billion ($2.1 billion) had already been pulled together for the NIS 414 two-year budget, but ministers clamored for more spending on education, defense and police. In addition, there was an outcry over value added tax (sales tax) which social activists want eliminated on basic goods.

An addition of NIS 1.7 billion was made, for example, to the budget of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan over the next two years.

Cutbacks were cancelled in the budget of Sport and Culture Minister Miri Regev, and an additional NIS 50 million was found to sweeten the deal.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett received NIS 290 million for his budget as well, to ease the cutbacks to his ministry’s coffers.

“We have to continue the economic growth and that is why taxes will not increase,” Netanyahu said when introducing the budget on Wednesday. “When the money gets to the citizens, they will make better use of it than the bureaucrats will.

“There are reforms here that reduce the cost of living for citizens. It’s important to reduce the price of food, transportation and health, and to increase the supply of housing,” he said.

After having passed the Cabinet, the budget will go to the Knesset plenum for a vote on August 31. Final passage of the budget must be completed in the Knesset by November 19.

FM Moshe Kahlon to Present ‘Cornflakes Reform’ Budget

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon made final preparations Tuesday in the Socio-Economic Cabinet to tie up loose ends in the budget for presentation to the full Cabinet on Wednesday (Aug. 5).

Kahlon said, “We are presenting genuinely significant reforms…in the banks and financial sector – the cost of living, food, removing impediments and lifting import quotas that have made things very difficult for consumers in the State of Israel.

“I have no doubt that we will receive the support of the ministers because – I reiterate what the Prime Minister said (at the start of the cabinet meeting) – this is a social and responsible, responsible and social, budget that truly puts people – the citizens of the state – in the center, alongside responsibility for economic growth, job creation, reduction of gaps, bringing the periphery closer to the center, infrastructures, housing and – of course – education.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commented at the start of the cabinet meeting that as a prime minister and finance minister, he had “passed over a dozen budgets” in his tenure, and always sees the same situation: “everyone has demands. Demands always exceed what there is,” he said, “but in the end the right decisions are made. “We will do so this time as well,” he added.

“The State of Israel will have a budget because otherwise it will not have a government and our economic and security situation would deteriorate. I trust the collective responsibility of our ministers. We will pass the budget in the full Cabinet tomorrow,” he said firmly.

“The ‘cornflakes reform’ that we are leading here at the Prime Minister’s Office, will affect many food products on the market,” Netanyahu went on to say.

“We are also enacting changes in what is referred to as ‘housing supply’ to further increase the number of apartments in the State of Israel.

“In the end this is the only way to lower prices. We are doing things to lower the cost of health services in the State of Israel such as supplementary insurance and private insurance.

“This will affect very many families regarding hundreds of shekels, which is not a small thing.

“We are also taking steps to advance the natural gas economy. First of all, we are linking factories to gas; what point is there to having gas if it cannot be utilized? With a side reference to the difficult financial situation faced by nearby Greece, Netanyahu commented, “I think that Israel has seen fit to navigate its economic path with the policy we have led over many years and it did not fall into the pits into which other countries have fallen, some not far away from us.

“We must continue not only to avoid these pitfalls but to scale the heights. The budget, and what we are doing here today, are designed to achieve these goals – continued growth and the continued lowering of prices.”

Putting Things Back Into Proportion

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

A State Comptroller audit report just came out attacking the prime minister for spending too much money on maintaining his residences and other official entertaining related expenses, and on how the money was spent.

David Shimron, the attorney of the Likud political party spoke at a press conference in Tel Aviv comparing the expenditures of the Prime Minister — who runs the country, and the President (Shimon Peres in the case of the years shown above) — who holds only a ceremonial role.

Those tall bars in orange belong to Shimon Peres, the short lines in blue belong to the Prime Minister.

Do you think they may have investigated the wrong person?

Govt Approves Massive Upgrade of Southern Israeli Infrastructure

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

The Cabinet on Sunday approved a proposal by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to upgrade the southern Israeli city of Sderot and its surrounds, and to build a new hospital in Be’er Sheva.

The NIS 1.3 billion five-year plan was created by a team of ministry director-generals led by PMO director Harel Locker. It is the largest and most comprehensive economic development plan ever made for the area, according to a release from the prime minister’s office.

The plan supplements the government’s July 13 decision to allocate NIS 417 million in economic benefits to the area adjacent to Gaza in 2015-2016. Approximately half of that sum is dedicated to Sderot.

“This is the largest investment that the State of Israel has ever made in this area,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “This is in addition to the NIS 417 million that we transferred during Operation Protective Edge. We are developing a new industrial zone in Sderot, transportation infrastructure in the area and are encouraging young people and students to move to the area adjacent to Gaza.

“We came to this country to build and to be built. We came to this part of our land in order to build and be built in it, and no one will uproot us. We will strengthen our hold and our development of this area just as in other areas,” the prime minister said.

“On Tuesday we will submit for Cabinet approval a supplement regarding an approximately NIS 2 billion in additional funds for the communities and cities of the south,” Netanyahu continued.

“In the framework of this decision, we will build a new hospital in Be’er Sheva, in addition to the hundreds of additional beds for the existing Soroka Medical Center.

“We will connect new natural gas infrastructures for the benefit of factories in the south. We will invest in initiatives to connect the Negev in the framework of the Digital Israel program.

“We will encourage small and mid-size businesses. We will develop tourism and all aspects of life, including the important ‘cyber’ aspect for all residents of the Negev, including Bedouin.

“This is a deep commitment on our part. I think that it has found expression.”

Report: Netanyahu, Lapid Reach 2015 Budget Deal

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid have reportedly resolved their differences over the 2015 state budget.

The target deficit will be raised from 2.5 percent to 3.4 percent and the defense budget will be increased by NIS 6 billion, according to the report by The Marker.

There will be a zero percent VAT (value added tax / sales tax) and no increase in taxes.

Finance Ministry Leaves IDF Empty-Handed

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Finance Minister Yair Lapid was apparently not satisfied with the IDF decision to cancel military reservist training for the entire year.

A bare few hours after IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz made the announcement, the Finance Ministry also rejected a separate funding request for a cash infusion to the defense establishment.

Moreover, according to a source who spoke with Ynet, the ministry plans to slash more of the military budget for fiscal 2015.

Right down to the bone.

The ministry claims the cuts come in response to a Bank of Israel estimate released Monday urging the government to balance the books by raising taxes to the tune of some NIS 18 billion and trimming the budget in each ministry for fiscal 2015.

Critics say the IDF is using the elimination of reservist training as a weapon against the budget cuts.

Traditionally, the defense establishment has been the one area in which cuts kept to a minimum, if any are made at all. But there are those who believe the IDF should trim the number of career soldiers it maintains and take a second look at restructuring pensions and other benefits.

The chief of staff expressed his concern Tuesday in a statement warning, “This is no trick, and no shtick. I am very concerned. The IDF is in the service of the people, not the other way around. We will make every effort to secure the safety of Israeli citizens no matter the circumstances.”

But the question is how that can be carried out if reservists are untrained – and called upon to suddenly use — any new equipment that arrives on Israeli shores.

Moreover, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon pointed out Tuesday, the financial stress on the IDF is “not new – the figures were presented to the Cabinet at the beginning of the year.” The defense budget, he noted, “is not the biggest one” and he too warned that “it is growing smaller.”

Ya’alon said that due to Lapid’s budget cuts, “We will not call up reserves even for operational activity.”

Translation: All military activities will have to be carried out by active forces only – and most are young and relatively inexperienced. A high percentage have never been through a war.

At present, the head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s paramilitary force has announced he believes it is time to end the security cooperation agreement with Israel. That Fatah-led force is on the verge of merging with Gaza’s Hamas terror organization.

If Lapid succeeds in slashing the IDF budget, what will happen should the new PA unity government decide to challenge Israel’s existence altogether in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, with aid from Arab nations?

Labor MK Accused of Leaking Classified Info

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

A Labor party lawmaker has been suspended from membership in subcommittees of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for leaking classified information.

MK Omer Bar-Lev, who at one time commanded the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit, was accused of handing a copy of a letter he sent to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to one of the media outlets.

In his letter Bar-Lev allegedly claimed to have found a discrepancy between an IDF training budget report filed by a senior IDF officer last February and figures presented recently by Ya’alon describing the army’s fiscal needs.

In a statement to journalists Monday evening, Bar-Lev denied the suspension due to his leaking classified information and instead focused on the discrepancy he said he found among the defense establishment’s budget figures.

“As far as we are concerned, the main issue is that the conflicting reports of senior IDF officers to the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee must be looked into and not a minor offense over some procedure that does breach security,” the statement said.

Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) told Bar-Lev the budget reports would be examined closely, according to the statement. It was Elkin who had informed Bar-Lev of the suspension, which extends throughout the summer session.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/labor-mk-accused-of-leaking-classified-info/2014/05/20/

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