Female soldier - Ilan Assayag - archive
A female IDF soldier. Photo by Ilan Assayag
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The Finance Ministry will gain some long fought-for oversight over the defense budget, as part of a handful of reforms the cabinet is expected to approve Sunday.

One such reform would give the Finance Ministry accountant at the Defense Ministry access to the system storing the Israel Defense Forces' salary and pension data. For the first time, treasury staff would be to see this data in real time, even if they would not be able to impose changes. At NIS 24 billion, these expenses make up half of the annual defense budget.

Until now, the treasury lacked full oversight over IDF salaries, even though it reviewed pay at all the ministries and at defense bodies including the Shin Bet security service and the Mossad.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Accountant General Michal Abadi-Boiangiu and budgets head Gal Hershkovitz have been pushing for the reform for months. The Defense Ministry has been fighting it.

The move has the support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will be bringing it up for a vote on Sunday along with a NIS 5.4 billion shift in budgets to fund education reforms proposed in the Trajtenberg report.

Opening the defense budget to oversight will save NIS 2 billion this year and NIS 1 billion in every subsequent year, said Steinitz.

Another groundbreaking reform states that IDF salary and pension decisions will need treasury approval starting on July 1.

Even though finance staff will be given access to defense budget data, the defense systems will not be hooked up to any external computer systems - not even the government computer system - for reasons of data security.