Finance Minister Lapid: Israel Is in a Worse Financial State Than I Thought

Lapid said his first year in office will be devoted to dealing with Israel's debt, which according to him Israel accrued through mismanagement in the past, by making painful budget cuts.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid publicly commented on the Israelis economy for the first time since taking office saying the situation was worse than he had thought.
"My first year in the Finance Ministry will be devoted to shrinking the overdraft. I would have liked to deal with happier matters, but I believe that I am most required where it is difficult. The problem stems from the fact that in the past instead of running a responsible economy giant loans were taken. I will not repeat the same mistake," Lapid wrote in a communique he sent his supporters on Saturday.

According to Lapid: "People who will feel their condition is worsened during the upcoming year need to know that the deterioration is only temporary. The more resolute are actions are today, the more we will be able to do next year – more lowering of housing costs, more budgets for education, welfare, small businesses, and the sharing of burden by all Israelis."

"The picture that is solely becoming clear to me is much worse than anticipated, Lapid added. "Once again it is clear that Israelis know what they are talking about. For years they have been told that they are doing well, and they have been saying that this wasn't true and couldn't be true. They are doing poorly, everyone they know is doing poorly; they make an okay living and still cannot make ends meet; they have no chance of buying an apartment. It is about time to deal with the overdraft."

"This is what I intended to do," Lapid wrote. "We will work hard, streamline, cut expenses, even cutting where it hurts. It will be rough, stressful, but there is a benefit to this: If we do it now it won't be long."

On Thursday ordered an immediate NIS 50 million transfer and budget increase for assistance to Holocaust survivors. The move enabled the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel to freeze a looming cut in caretaker hours to 6,000 disabled survivors.

The foundation’s general manager Rony Kalinsky congratulated Lapid on his “first governmental decision as finance minister, demonstrating a deep commitment to the population of Holocaust survivors in Israel.” There are 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel according to the foundation.

Oren Nahshon