Photo: Yair Sagi
Finance Minister Kahlon
Photo: Yair Sagi

Government approves NIS 1.2 billion in budget cuts across the board

The cuts of 1.25% percent of each ministry's budget include NIS 168 million taken from defense, NIS 88 million from education and NIS 27 million from welfare among many others; cuts meant to pay for evacuation of Amona, keeping the IBA on air longer, and NIS 1 billion in additional funding to Haredi education.

The government approved budget cuts Sunday of NIS 1.2 billion across the board which will be implemented in the coming two years to pay for the evacuation of Amona, keep the Israel Broadcasting Authority on air until the end of April 2017, and add over NIS 1 billion to education in the ultra-Orthodox sector.



Ministers were informed of the impending vote only hours ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting and many were caught unaware by the hefty cuts to their ministries.


The 2017-2018 state budget and the Economic Arrangements Law are scheduled to go to a vote at the Knesset for a final approval later this week. The cuts are part of a last-minute addition to the legislation. Treasury officials said the cuts were necessary to the final approval of the state budget.


Prime Minister Netanyahu flanked by Public Security Minister Erdan and Finance Minister Kahlon during a cabinet meeting (Photo: EPA)
Prime Minister Netanyahu flanked by Public Security Minister Erdan and Finance Minister Kahlon during a cabinet meeting (Photo: EPA)


As part of the proposed financial slashes, some NIS 10 million will be taken from the Prime Minister's Office, NIS 32 million from the Public Security Ministry, and NIS 168 million from the Defense Ministry.


NIS 88.6 million will be cut from the Education Ministry, an additional NIS 12.986 million will be cut from education under another clause, and some NIS 24 million will be cut from higher education.


Local authorities will lose NIS 44 million from their budget, while NIS 10 million will be taken from the Immigration Absorption Ministry, NIS 13 million from the Agriculture Ministry and NIS 14 million from the Housing and Construction Ministry.


Then Welfare Ministry will lose NIS 27.32 million from its budget, while NIS 72 million allocated for the National Insurance Institute will also be cut by the welfare minister.


The Health Ministry will see two cuts, one of NIS 26.564 million and another of NIS 6.598 million. NIS 155.947 million earmarked for transportation development will be cut, as well as NIS 29.81 million allocated to other development expenditures.


NIS 70 million for Amona

Some NIS 70 million of the cut funds will be allocated instead to the evacuation of the illegal outpost Amona. Out of that sum, NIS 9 million will be immediately transferred to the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council so it can build infrastructure, public areas, and public buildings on the temporary Amona site.


The Defense Ministry was instructed to provide mobile structures for the temporary site as soon as possible following the completion of infrastructure work. The Defense Ministry will also allocate an additional NIS 3.5 million, to be transferred within two weeks, to pay for rentals to house the evacuated families in the interim period.


Amona (Photo: Ido Erez)
Amona (Photo: Ido Erez)


The Interior Ministry will allocate NIS 40 million to aid the Amona residents "in reestablishing and rehabilitating their lives."


An additional NIS 15 million will be transferred to the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council to cover special expenditures that relate to the evacuation, including the building and renovating of public structures in nearby settlements that are set to take in the Amona evacuees.


Change in priorities

According to the decision, the changes made to the state budget are necessary "In order to meet the fiscal frameworks set forth in the Deficit Reduction and Budgetary Expenditure Limitation Law and in light of the expenditures added to the years 2017-2018 after the approval of the budget for these years."


The decision document states that "changes must be made in the priorities of the state budget. To that end, the 2017 budgets of government ministries must be decreased by 1.25 percent."


Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan expressed his opposition to the budget cuts, saying the cuts "will seriously undermine the Public Security Ministry's plans. A cut of NIS 37 million a year, in a ministry that allocates almost its entire budget to salaries for security forces, will seriously undermine new plans, such as increased enforcement in the Arab sector and the bolstering of Jerusalem's security. I will not be able to support such a cut and will vote against it in the government."


Labor and Welfare Minister Haim Katz also announced his objection to the move and said he was negotiating to exclude his ministry from the planned cuts.


Opposition MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union) called on government ministers to vote against the cuts, saying "the across-the-board cut, which amounts to almost NIS 2 billion—in addition to NIS 2 billion that have already been cut—makes a mockery of every social achievement, both big and small. An across-the-board cut is a cruel, cowardly and indiscriminate cut."


Roi Yanovsky and Omri Efraim contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 12.18.16, 14:02
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