The draft budget for 2015 goes to the cabinet for approval on Tuesday, with the treasury rushing to get the spending package to the Knesset in time for it to be approved by the end of the year.
- Lapid’s free lunch is no bargain
- Lapid unveils 2015 budget of 'hope and promise’
- Israel to privatize $4b worth of government companies
Complicating matters, the treasury still faces a fight with the Defense Ministry, which is demanding 5 billion shekels ($1.36 billion) for next year on top of the 6 billion shekels in extra spending already agreed on. The treasury plans to resist.
Yael Andorn, the Finance Ministry’s director general, told TheMarker that the 328 billion-shekel budget struck a good balance between the demands of the defense establishment and the need to keep the deficit around 3% of gross domestic product, preserve social spending and avoid tax hikes.
“This isn’t because the finance minister wanted it, but because it’s good for the economy – it’s the best budget we can achieve, and I’ve seen a lot of budgets over the years,” she said.
If the cabinet approves the spending package with small changes, as expected today, the finance and justice ministries will have to work quickly to draft the budget legislation in time to get it to the Knesset by November 1. That would give lawmakers enough time to debate the package and hold their final vote on it December 31.
Social Affairs Minster Meir Cohen said only a third of the extra budget called for by the government’s War on Poverty Committee – just 1.7 billion shekels – is included in the 2015 budget.
Cohen told a press conference yesterday that some elements of the committee’s proposals appear in other ministries’ budgets, but the biggest proposals, which called for increased income support and more money for public housing, were missing from the package. Nevertheless, he called it an “achievement” that any of the anti-poverty proposals at all got into the budget for neat year.