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May 26, 2016 / 18 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘budget’

Knesset Coalition Avoids 266 Hr. Budget Debate as Opposition Submits 32,000 Amendments

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

(JNi.media) “Despite the opposition’s amendments, 32,000 altogether—which shows how serious they are—we will pass a budget this week,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before the start of the budget debate which began Wednesday afternoon.

Rookie Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon opened the budget debate with a call to Knesset Members to vote for his budget, and the Knesset plenum is already engaged in second and third voting on both the state budget and the Economic Arrangements Law for 2015-2016–which incorporates all bills and legislative amendments required for the government to fulfill its economic policy. The agenda calls for 600 votes, give or take, a process that will last many consecutive hours until some time Thursday morning.

This legislative marathon began with a brilliant parliamentary trick on the part of the opposition parties, led by MK Itzhak Herzog (Zionist Camp). The idea was to topple the government through excessive amendments. The math was simple: by law the budget must be approved by Thursday night at the latest, or the government falls and the country goes to new elections. So the opposition parties amassed 32,000 amendments to the budget, expecting that with a vote on each amendment the debate would last well into Shabbat afternoon, and by then the Netanyahu government would have been a faint memory.

But there are crafty parliamentarians on the Coalition side, too, and they decided on a precedent: they bunched related amendments together to create six hundred groups, allotting one vote per group, so that the process would last not more than 15 hours—give or take.

MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) threatened to appeal the anti-ambush ambush call of the House Committee to the High Court, and MK Israel Eichler (UTJ) told him: “Be my guest, submit all the amendments to the Supreme Court and let the justices sit and vote for two weeks running on those 32,000 amendments. They are the real sovereigns anyway, let them legislate a little…”

Netanyahu, whose 61-59 majority government was not supposed to last through the start of the Jewish year appears to be sailing calmly into New Year’s, and is very pleased with his budget, which “maintains a proper, responsible macroeconomic framework for Israel, but also adds billions to education, welfare and health, and is accompanied by very important reforms to lower the cost of living, streamline our bureaucracy and advance the Israeli economy. The economy is very strong, very stable, one of the most prominent among the world’s economies, and our responsibility is to continue this trend.”

“All that’s required of us is 24 hours of discipline,” Netanyahu commented on the marathon budget vote. “We proved that we are good at being disciplined, our small electoral advantage is meaningful, and we will maintain it and pass the Budget.”

Finance Minister Kahlon was especially proud of his defense budget: “We have reached an historic agreement with the security forces and the army,” he boasted to Calcalist. “An agreement which includes a large scale streamlining of the system alongside intensification and a multi-year budget. We’ve done away with the phenomenon of IDF officers having to court the politicians to get a bigger budget, otherwise they’d stop military training — we made that phenomenon disappear and it is no more.”

Kahlon continued: “We raised conscripts’ pay by 50%,” noting, “I think that’s not enough, they deserve more.” Israeli enlisted men and women get laughably small monthly salaries, which widens the gap between soldiers from rich and poor homes. “We want a strong economy, a healthy society and a strong army,” Kahlon said.

JNi.Media

City of Jerusalem & Parents’ Group Declare School Strike Over Inadequate Security

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

The Jerusalem municipality joined the city parents’ association to declare a school strike Thursday for students in grades 9-12 to protest inadequate government security funding.

High schools throughout Jerusalem will be on strike as both the city and the parents demand the government pay for security measures that will protect schools throughout the school day.

Elementary schools are in session as usual.

“As long as the government is shirking its responsibility for school security, we will not abandon our children,” explained Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in a statement released Wednesday night.

According to the statement, security for Jerusalem schools is funded only until 1:30 pm.

Security coverage at school is not funded after that time, and those communities who cannot afford to pay for it may simply have no coverage until the end of the school day.

Hana Levi Julian

Knesset Approves Budget in 1st Voting Round as Shas Threatens to Pull Support

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

(JNi.media) On Wednesday night, at the end of a seven-hour debate, a majority of 57 coalition MKs supported the Netanyahu government budget proposal, versus 53 opposition votes, with Minister of the Economy Aryeh Deri absent from the session during a vote so closely related to his office. Deri threatened that should the issue of zero VAT on essential products not be resolved by the following voting round, his party, Shas, would oppose the budget.

The Knesset’s first voting round approved the Budget bill for the years 2015-2016. Immediately thereafter, the Knesset passed the Economic Arrangements bill in a first vote, with Economy Minister Deri absent from that vote as well.

Immediately thereafter, the Knesset passed the Economic Arrangements Law first reading with the same. This vote also absent Economy Minister Deri.

The Economic Arrangements Law includes all the necessary changes in legislation needed to implement the measures the government wants to enact as part of the state budget. A new economic arrangements act has been presented annually to the Knesset since 1985, adjacent to the state budget proposal. The law is a set of proposed changes in many areas, each of which requires special legislation. Instead of drafting a bill on every individual subject, the government packs all those provisions in a single bill.

The state budget for 2015 will reach $84 billion, and $89 billion in 2016. The deficit target in 2016-2015 would be 2.9% of GDP. For comparison, Israel’s next door neighbor, Jordan, with roughly the same size population — about 8 million — has an annual budget of $10.5 billion.

A senior Shas official explained that Shas MKs approached Minister Aryeh Deri Wednesday night and expressed anger that the issue of the zero VAT on essential products has not been finalized with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, despite having been agreed on at the cabinet budget meeting. At a consequent meeting with his faction members, Deri ordered them to vote for the budget in the first round, but threatened that if the zero VAT legislation would not come through, the Shas faction would not support the budget.

Deri, who was absent from the vote, struck an offset deal with an opposition member who committed to also abstain. Altogether, the MKs did not permit the fact that not all coalition members were on hand at the vote to be turned into a consequent vote of no confidence, since such an attempt would have ended in little more than theatrics. On Wednesday night, MKs were more interested in addressing real issues.

Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman slammed the budget proposal, calling it “Isra-bluff.” Lieberman asked, “How can we approve a budget without knowing the size of the defense budget, which counts for its largest part? How can we approve a budget when we’re told about 4%, across the board cuts?”

According to Lieberman, the problem is that the Prime Minister doesn’t know how to make decisions, only how to babble and chat.

Finance Minister Kahlon said the proposed budget is one of the best Israel has had in recent years. “The budget brings good news on the cost of living,” said Kahlon, adding that the greatest threat to the country’s stability are the social gaps: “This is a national task and this Government is working bring the periphery closer and promote competition,” he said.

“I became Minister of Finance in awe,” Kahlon told the Knesset. “What I’m trying to pass is an Israel in which there is equality, there is compassion, there is a mutual responsibility and there are social values. There are weak and poor among us, converts, widows and orphans. We mustn’t be cynical about this.”

JNi.Media

Economics Committee Tussles with Finance Over Broadcast Authority

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Knesset Economics Committee Chairman MK Eitan Cabel has sent a sharply-worded ‘reminder’ to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon not to forget the Israel Broadcasting Corp. in his new 2015-2016 budget.

In the letter, signed together with committee member Prof. Yossi Yona, Cabel noted that last week’s budget approval didn’t mention any funding for the yet-to-be established new broadcasting corporation.

And the current Israel Broadcasting Authority, meanwhile, is already in liquidation.

Without any financial resources to keep the IBA going, or to launch the IBC, television screens in Israel might go dark, Cabel pointed out – a violation of the broadcast law passed last year.

The Finance Minister was enjoined by special legislation approved in Knesset last year to resolve all of its fiscal issues with the Israel Broadcast Authority.

These include the cost of its operations and the startup for the new IBC, the letter states. More to the point, however, is the lack of logic in the IBA having to request its funding each month.

Therefore, Cabel informed Kahlon that he has called an emergency meeting of the Economics Committee, to be held during the Knesset recess – and Finance Ministry officials will be required to attend, recess notwithstanding – to discuss the ministry’s breach of law.

Minister Without Portfolio Ofir Akunis, who handles communications issues, received a copy of the letter, as did Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, chair of the special committee involved in preparing the amended public broadcasting law.

Hana Levi Julian

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.

Hana Levi Julian

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.”

Hana Levi Julian

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?

Photo of the Day

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/putting-things-back-into-proportion/2015/02/18/

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