State Comptroller Yosef Shapira on Tuesday released a report noting deficiencies in the use of funds at the official residence of former president Shimon Peres. Shapira's report details the mismanagement of human resources, finance, acquisition, planning, and budgeting.
The new report reveals that Peres received budgetary injections averaging some 20 percent above previous annual expenses and totaling dozens millions of shekels over the years. Sitting President Reuven Rivlin's spending was not within the scope of the probe.
The Comptroller's report discovered that in the years 2011 and 2014 the Presidential Residence's budget was given additional allowances worth millions of shekels a year. "Essentially," Shapira wrote, "the proposed budget in each year was short and did not reflect the budget that was effectively allocated to the Presidential Residence."
A chart published by the Comptroller showed the gap in the 2011 budgets reaching 17.4 million shekels, rising to 19.2 million the following year, dropping to 14.8 million in 2013, but jumping significantly to 20.6 million last year.
In 2014 the original budget stood at 40.3 million shekels, but the Comptroller's probe discovered it had been raised to 60.9 million by the end of the year – for employee salaries, security, and other expenses.
The budgetary department in the Finance Ministry said the injections included reported expenses for the president's flights abroad, the refurbishing of the Presidential Residence, security personnel and related needs, and coordination for salaries.
The Comptroller noted that alongside the expenses explained by the Finance Ministry, there were other expenses which were predictable but not budgeted. "For example, in the years 2011 and 2012 the original budget for rent, property tax, vehicle maintenance, and fuel stood at 1.5 million shekels despite actual expenses reaching double that figure," he wrote.
The office of former president Peres said it cooperated with the State Comptroller during Peres' tenure. "As the report itself shows, during the term of the ninth president the resident underwent extensive and comprehensive work to improve and streamline the various managerial departments."