Treasury, Central Bank War Heating Up

The battle between the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel is heating up again. A senior treasury official lashed out yesterday at central bank governor Stanley Fischer over the issue of the bank's wages, while earlier this week, Fischer accused the treasury of constant leaks to the press against the bank.

"The Finance Ministry is of the opinion that the Bank of Israel, like every other public institution, must provide full, truthful and up-to-date reports on the salaries of bank employees," the senior treasury official said. "We fought the universities when they refused to hand over information; we halted their funding. Our treatment of all institutions, including the Bank of Israel, is equal."

However, he stressed, the ministry has no personal feud with Fischer; it merely disagrees with some of his positions.

The conflict between the bank and the treasury erupted anew on Tuesday, when Fischer attended a session of the Knesset Finance Committee on the new Bank of Israel Law. Fischer attacked the treasury, accusing it of leaking information - usually false - that undermined the bank's public standing.

In response, treasury wages director Ilan Levin told the committee that the bank was continuing to hide information from the Finance Ministry regarding employee salaries and benefits, and sometimes even deceived his department outright.

Levin warned that this could affect Israel's standing in global corruption rankings.

Yesterday, Levin denied that the treasury was leaking information on central bank wages. However, he added, if the bank acted transparently, there would be no need to worry about leaks.

The Bank of Israel refused to comment on the matter.