Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, five ministers and four deputy ministers have yet to file an annual statement of wealth to the state comptroller, even though the deadline passed two months ago.
The Netanyahu government has a staggering 38 ministers and deputy ministers, so the number of those who failed to file the required statement constitutes about a quarter of the cabinet.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar has missed the deadline, as have Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, Industry and Trade Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom. Among the deputy ministers who have failed to do so are Gila Gamliel, Meir Porush, Danny Ayalon and Yitzhak Cohen.
Sa'ar, Braverman, Misezhnikov and Ayalon issued statements saying they follow the comptroller's instructions and will file in a few days. Ben-Eliezer's office said he has already filed and that the comptroller has since asked for some corrections and clarifications, which will be filed soon. Gamliel did not respond.
According to the rules governing the avoidance of conflict of interest by ministers, "within 60 days of their assuming office, a minister will declare to the state comptroller, among other matters, the following: capital, income, benefits, and [financial] commitments that the minister and his family have in the year that preceded their appointment as minister, as well as other details that have been determined by the comptroller on the declaration form."
In addition, article 10 of the regulations for preventing a conflict of interests for ministers states that "within 60 days of the end of each year of a minister's tenure, and within 60 days after the end of the minister's tenure, the minister will file an annual declaration to the state comptroller with details on capital, assets, benefits and commitments and details on other sources of income of the minister and of his family."
Most salaried employees in Israel are not required to file an annual income tax return.
The Netanyahu government was established on March 31, 2009, meaning that the deadline for the prime minister, ministers and deputy ministers to update their declaration to the state comptroller for the period of April 2009 to the end of March 2010 was May 31 of this year.
It should be noted that Ben-Eliezer and Cohen have already served in a number of governments and were obligated to have filed annual report with the state comptroller previously. Those are also overdue.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, has sent letters to the prime minister and the ministers, urging them to file the 13-page report on their income.
Knesset sources say that if the ministers and their deputies fail to file the report in the near future, they are likely to be called in by the comptroller to provide explanations.
However, the release of their names is expected to encourage the ministers to file their reports. Some of the ministers and deputy ministers were critical yesterday of the requirement of having to file an annual income report to the state comptroller.
"The requirement that the prime minister, the ministers and their deputies file a report on income once a year to the state comptroller is absurd," one minister said yesterday. "It is a procedural hassle and is not effective."
"There are barely any changes between the income report I filed with the comptroller a year ago and the one this year," another minister said. "I do not understand why we need to file such a declaration every year and not at the start of our tenure and at the end of it."
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