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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Finance Ministry’

Budget Cuts Leave Israeli Air Force Training Flights Up in the Air

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

The IDF is grounding training flights in the Israeli air force, effective immediately, according to a report late Tuesday night by Walla!

Starting next Sunday, pilots will fly only during actual operations and in flight school, IAF fighter jet commanders were told Tuesday night. The IDF decision to ground the planes includes reserve pilots as well, and was made jointly by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

The decision to clip the wings of Israel’s air force came after the Finance Ministry refused to send the Defense Ministry a payment of NIS 750 million ($215 million) for basic maintenance, training and drills.

Last October the Defense Ministry had asked for an increase in its budget after it had taken steps to streamline operations. The Cabinet approved a decision to transfer NIS 2.75 billion to the defense establishment from the budget surplus that existed at the time.

Nevertheless, Finance Minister Yair Lapid has continued to advocate for a cut in the budget instead, hoping to use those funds for social services.

In the long run, it may be that the equipment will come out the biggest loser of all, however. Brig.-Gen. (res) Assaf Agmon, head of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, was quoted as saying, “a plane that doesn’t fly suffers in terms of its condition; rubber dries out, the body is damaged. It’s for good reason pilots often air out their plane for 15 minutes before a mission, so as to preserve the plaine’s flight condition.”

A source in the Defense Ministry told Walla!, the Finance Ministry “refused to hold logical negotiations while at least making good on its earlier commitments, and therefore we had no choice but to make decisions like these.”

“The IDF planned in a responsible manner the work plans for 2014 according to the missions and the size of the army, as approved in October by the Cabinet, and in January by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committe,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement. “Throughout that time the meaning of the approval of a work plan with an inadequate budget was presented to all the relevant parties. It was made clear that in May, the IDF would reach an extreme point at which hard decisions would be required.”

FM Spokesperson Yigal Palmor Resigning, Joins Senior Staff Flight

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

According to a report published Tuesday in the Hebrew-language daily Maariv, veteran Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor plans to resign in the near future.

If the report is true, Palmor’s resignation will be the latest in a series of flights by seasoned professionals from the office that is the face of the State of Israel, representing this country to the world. Palmor, 53, speaks numerous languages and has worked at the ministry for 28 years, serving as a deputy spokesperson since the mid-1990s and as official spokesperson since 2008.

Among the others who left over the past several years are: Lior Weintraub, chief of staff at the Washington bureau; Yaki Dayan, head of the Los Angeles office; Ran Curiel, vice-director at the European office; Ilan Maor, Israel’s envoy to Shanghai; and Amos Nidai, former ambassador to Beijing. Each allegedly left “for his own reasons,” according to the Foreign Ministry.

But it is no secret that relations between ministry employees and “upper management” have been strained at best. Over the past year they carried out a worldwide strike – an unheard-of move by envoys and people at the foreign ministry – due to a long-unresolved contract dispute with the Finance Ministry over wages and benefits.

Palmor was left to explain that to the media, including having to face the unenviable task of dealing with the fallout over holiday supplies not reaching the famed Nepal Chabad House in time for its annual Passover Seder in the Himalayas due to the strike.

Further complicating the picture are the reduced numbers in the ministry’s lower echelons due to the wage and benefits dispute, which has meant there are fewer younger officials to rely upon.

There is also a great deal of confusion about exactly who represents this country to the world. The establishment in 2006 of the prime minister’s National Information Directorate alienated many at the foreign ministry; at that time, the ministry already was contending with the issue of its releases simultaneously arriving in editors’ boxes with those of the Government Press Office, those of the IDF, the Defense Ministry, and those of the Prime Minister’s Office – not to mention releases from the spokespersons of individual politicians and members of Knesset.

It has never been clear to most journalists exactly who, precisely, represents the views of the State of Israel as a specific, sole entity. If as a journalist one calls the prime minister’s office to ask that question, the answer often depends upon the question itself – “exactly what is this about?”

One cannot ever get a straight answer to a straight question in the State of Israel, as a journalist – and this may be the greatest problem for this country’s public relations, if not perhaps the impetus behind the exodus of the foreign ministry’s senior staff.

Rich Get Richer: Germany Saves $55 Billion on Crisis

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Germany is profiting from the debt crisis that’s debilitating most of their neighbors to the south and south-east, by saving more than 40 billion euros in interest on its government debt. Meanwhile, German treasury bonds doing fabulously well due to strong demand from investors seeking a safe haven, Spigel reported.

According to the German Finance Ministry, Germany will save a total of €40.9 billion (roughly $55 billion) in interest payments in the years 2010 to 2014, because of the difference between actual and budgeted interest payments.

On average, the interest rate on all new federal government bond issues fell by almost a full percentage point in the 2010 to 2014 period, according to the report, and Germany is a considered a very safe creditor in investors’ circles.

The rule of when it rains it pours seems to be working in Germany’s favor as well: it is seeing unprecedented high tax revenues from its robust economy, which has also led to a decline in new borrowing.

Between 2010 and 2012, the German government issued €73 billion (about $97 billion) less in new debt than it had planned.

On the other side of things, according to the Finance Ministry, the costs of the euro crisis for Germany have so far added up to €599 million, Spiegel reported.

This should be good news to all of us paranoids who fear a reawakening of the sleeping German militaristic giant who would try once more to conquer the world. Who needs to conquer the world when you can buy it for so much less?

Cabinet Passes ‘Austerity Budget’

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

The Cabinet Monday evening passed a two-year budget, nearly five months late, with tax hikes and across-the-board cuts in spending, Only one minister voted against the  budget, the second and last time it will cover two years instead of one.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who is chairman of the Yesh Atid party, said after the vote that the budget is “first stage in changing peoples’ lives in Israel.”

The Value Added Tax on most goods, except food, will rise from 17 percent to 18 percent. Income taxes will rise for upper income families, and ministries will have to get by with last outlays, meaning cuts in services.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer announced a surprise quarter-point cut in the interest ate Monday night, two weeks ahead of the end-of-the month decision n whether to change the rate for the following month. He also praised the new budget, which could lead the country out of a huge deficit that has mounted in the past three years following several years of a surplus.

Fayyad Hospitalized

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was hospitalized on Monday after being feeling ill at his office in the Finance Ministry, which he temporarily heads, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.

Fayyad was rushed to a Ramallah hospital reportedly was in stable condition.

Do We Finally Have a Coalition?

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Headlines are “hinting” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has finally gotten some sort of agreement with the Bobbsey Twins, a.k.a., Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett.  Those two rookie Members of Knesset have been holding a very nice dowry of over thirty Knesset Members which Netanyahu desperately needs if he’s going to be able to have a workable coalition.

70-strong Israeli coalition nearing completion (Times of Israel)
Lapid to be finance minister, Bennett to be minister of trade, foreign portfolio to be held for Liberman; ultra-Orthodox parties going into opposition

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is warming up to the idea of becoming Finance Minister, party sources said on Saturday, a week before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s deadline to form a government. Nothing is for sure yet, but the press has been saying that Lapid is willing to take the Finance Ministry.

Lapid and Netanyahu met on Friday, for talks their spokeswomen called “positive, with much progress made,” and on Saturday, in a meeting that was still ongoing (Jerusalem Post).

I can’t imagine a tougher challenge for him.  It’s so much easier to complain from the outside.  He campaigned on a social/financial platform.  It takes money to give the people what he claimed to want to give them/us.  Let’s see if it’s really possible, once he sees the real numbers.

“It all looks different from inside the government” is what many right-wing politicians have insisted when answering complaints about the contrast of their campaign promises and government policies.  I’m curious to see how Lapid will handle the “hot potato.”

If Lapid and Bennett have really come to an agreement with Bibi, I guess they’ll tie up the loose ends by the time Peres returns and United States President Barack Hussein Obama comes for his visit.

But in the meantime, we’ll just wait for the details…

Visit Shiloh Musings.

The Adventures of the Jewish Nurse in the Land of Israel

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

There is one profession in Israel of manual labor and endless running around whose practitioners are required to undergo higher education. Nursing. They are of all different ages. Young women who just finished nursing school, full of energy and joie de vivre, work alongside older women who have been on the same demanding job in the same department for years. None will ever be promoted as a reward for dedicated work. The only thing they receive is a feeling of having served society and helped other people.

Schwarze schwester,” they used to be called in Jerusalemite Yiddish. Lowly functionaries working protracted, exhausting shifts, running silently throughout the long night through the patients’ rooms like angels in white, offering relief to aching body and soul. It is a noble profession, many of whose members leave their families and children to tend to others, only to return home to then tend to their families as well. Day and night cease to have meaning. Just running, endless running through the long halls of the different departments with their greyish fluorescent illumination, all day breathing in the bacteria of the hospital air.

I have such a nurse at home. I see her come home after a shift, wrung dry like a lemon, wanting nothing but an hour to recover from the day’s events. Sometimes she was yelled at by the agitated father of a boy she treated. Sometimes, because of limited manpower, she did the work of two nurses, because there simply was no additional nurse who could take the shift. Either that, or someone wanted to save money.

The savings don’t get passed on to her, although she and her family pay dearly for a nurse to come to their home, broken from exhaustion, but needing to get up again and start working as a mother. The monthly pay slip comes, and it is again obvious that the salary bears no relation to the effort. Without an accumulation of especially difficult shifts, it isn’t even enough to get by.

So what is it about this profession that attracts so many Jewish women?

Giving. Humility. Precisely the things that make it stand out against more glamorous career choices. It is a career without an ego. Just soulfulness, goodwill, and desire to help.

A nurse always receives her instructions from a doctor, sometimes one who just arrived at the department, a young person who still doesn’t know much. But even with all her accumulated experience, she has to do what he says.

Take the one in my family: a nurse who has been in the field for thirty years and has saved the lives of a good number of people. Just a month ago she rushed a patient to the ultrasound lab because, without any tests, with only her hard-earned expertise, she could tell that the patient was suffering from an abdominal hemorrhage. Even with her experience, she can’t administer certain medical treatments without a doctor, inexperienced though he may be, to say nothing of writing prescriptions or determining dosage.

She must always display the knowledge she has gained pleasantly and with humility. On many occasions she’s had to tell a young doctor—as gently as can be, so as not to insult—to change the treatment instructions already given.

The nurses are forever caught between a rock and a hard place, between the expert doctor, the intern on call, the national service girl, and the patients. Nursing is tough. But it is noble, pure, and all about helping others.

This is why the public has to take the side of the nurses who are on strike, more than it would have to side with striking doctors, for instance. Because of the dedication. Because of the humility. Because of the need to show some gratitude to those who chose a career that is so lackluster but so full of light, to which so many people owe their lives.

The Ministry of Health needs to enact the following measures:

Expand the pool of available nurses by increasing the basic salary. This will allow nurses to tend to their patients without arriving in the room out of breath, with another two or three patients already yelling “nurse!” in vain from the other end of the department.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-adventures-of-the-jewish-nurse-in-the-land-of-israel/2012/12/19/

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