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The highest officials in the government will be sharing the pain. The monthly wages of the president, the governor of the Bank of Israel and ministers from the premier to the last member of the cabinet will all be frozen in 2009.

Also, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will be receiving the same wage next year as in 2008, though the budget of the auditing division he heads is increasing by 4.5% to NIS 237 million, the Knesset Finance Committee decided yesterday.

The wage freeze will also apply to about 450 former high-ranking state officials now receiving pensions.

Yesterday's decision by the Finance Committee should save the taxpayer about NIS 4 million in 2009. However, an idea is already floating around Knesset circles that the officials will get the sum they're missing out on in 2009, but only the year after - in 2010.

The question arose after TheMarker queried the Knesset's intention regarding the officials' wages, which were supposed to rise 3% to 3.5% in 2009 based on an automatic mechanism.

Finance Committee chairman Avishay Braverman recommended that top officials' wages be frozen because of hard economic times.

Previously the House Committee of the Knesset decided to freeze wages of Knesset members, rather than allow raises of 3.5% beginning in January.

The idea of that freeze had originated with David Tal of Kadima.