The Knesset's Finance Committee on Tuesday approved a request to double Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's travel budget. The budget, which stood at NIS 14 million ($3.75 million) at the beginning of 2011, will receive a NIS 13 million ($3.50 million) increment.
The coalition coordinator at the committee, Knesset Member Zion Fanian (Likud) said the prime minister's travel budget cannot be planned in advance, as some of the trips are unexpected and cannot be predicted.
MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila (Kadima) said in response that the initial sum of NIS 14 million is significant and there must be full transparency when it comes to the prime minister's trips. "It's unthinkable that every year the Finance Committee will be requested to cover the deficit in the travel budget," she said.
Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said the prime minister's trips abroad help improve the State's status and image and should be encouraged, particularly when international elements are attempting to delegitimize Israel.
'Peres' trip a tremendous success'
The committee also approved a NIS 3 million ($800,000) addition to the President's Residence budget, which was delayed Monday in order to receive additional details on President Shimon Peres' recent trip to Vietnam as the request said NIS 2.7 million ($720,000) were needed to cover the flight expenses.
The President's Residence deputy director-general told the committee on Tuesday that the cost of the trip totaled NIS 3.45 million ($920,000), which was justified in light of the "tremendous success" of the president's visit to the Asian country.
He noted, however, that the President's Residence charged NIS 550,000 ($147,000) for the flight expenses of the businesspeople who accompanied the president. In addition, NIS 200,000 ($53,500) were taken from the President's Residence budget to fund the trip.