If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fails to complete a 2013 budget to present to lawmakers by the end of the year, he should give an interim budget to govern spending for the first half of next year, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said on Sunday.
Rivlin's proposal comes amid disarray in the budget-making process, which is far behind schedule as the prime minister tries to enlist support in his coalition for a spending package of deep spending cuts and higher taxes.
Netanyahu has still not decided whether he will try to draft a budget before the end of the year and is expected to make a decision only after the High Holy Days are over in October.
"We cannot be in a situation in which the 2013 fiscal year will begin without a budget approved by the Knesset," Rivlin said. "If the government doesn't succeed in finding a majority for the 2013 budget in its entirety, we need to legislate a measure that will enable us to have a fiscal package for the first half of the year. That's how the state can address the needs of the economy, set fiscal priorities - and prevent a situation in which the government operates under the 2012 budget from month to month."
Rivlin said in parallel to legislation on an interim budget, there must be an agreement scheduling early elections. If the vote is set for February 2013, then an interim budget could successfully tide fiscal matters over until a new government is formed, he said.
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