Israel's Treasury Pushing for Extra Time to Pass Budget

Extending 45-day time frame to 120 days could mean that the 2013-2014 budget will not be passed until July, threatening the management of Israel's economic policy.

The finance and justice ministries are pushing for an amendment that could give the new government 120 days to present its budget for approval.

Currently, the law requires that the government not only present the budget within 45 days, but also have it passed by the Knesset in that time. The change would mean that the Knesset might not approve the budget until the end of July.

The proposed text of the bill was not available at press time, though it was understood that the 120 days did not include Saturdays and holidays.

Over the weekend, Finance Ministry officials said the amendment was needed because the Knesset will begin a month-long Passover recess in another week. Meanwhile, the next finance minister, quite possibly Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, will have to review the new budget, not to mention the ministry’s workings.

Treasury officials said it would also take time to amend the budget draft that the ministry has almost completed to reflect the new government’s coalition agreement. The finance and justice ministries sent the proposed amendment to the other ministries late Thursday night.

The outgoing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not seek passage of the two-year 2013-14 budget before the beginning of this year because of the January 22 election.

As a result, each ministry is operating each month using a budget based a fractional share of one-twelfth of the 2012 budget.

Such a practice is virtually unheard of in the developed world. Critics say it distorts management of economic policy. After the last election four years ago, the budget was passed by the Knesset 107 days after the Netanyahu government took office.

Emil Salman