Photo: Visual Photos

State to cover Shas preschools' deficit

Government greenlights NIS 18 million bailout for religious party's kindergarten chain; Treasury says it will have to abide by fiscal recovery plan

The government has approved funds meant to cover the fiscal deficit of Shas' kindergarten chain, in the amount of NIS 18 million (apporx. $4.64 million).


The religious party's preschool chain, which belongs to Maayan HaChinuch HaTorani, has debts that exceed NIS 20 million ($5.16 million).


The move was promoted by both Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Education Minister Gideon Saar, who asked the government to change the preschool chain's status to that of "one of clear public interest," which will enable the funds' transfer.


The Education Ministry and the Treasury argued that sans the government's support, the chain will have no choice but to shut down its 304 institutions, leaving some 13,000 children in the lurch.


Both ministries said that the bailout will mandate the chain to undergo a comprehensive fiscal recovery plan and implement "far-reaching efficiency measures," which includes closing down kindergartens and layoffs.


The Treasury also aims to appoint a comptroller, who will oversee the plan over the span of five years.


"If the State believes that there is a national interest in keeping this (chain) operational, it should step in and make it a state-funded one," Shahar Ilan, VP of the Hiddush movement for religious freedom and equality, said.


Ilan added that in the past, the State refused to bail out other educational associations that found themselves facing great fiscal difficulties.


Hiddush CEO Attorney Uri Regev added: "It's hard to think of a worse government investment, as far as the Israeli market is concerned, than the decision to save Shas' preschools.


"This chain was formed with the sole purpose of bolstering the Shas constituency – starting at that tender age and funded by the State… The government cannot choose to over-fund them at the expense of impoverished neighborhoods and the periphery."




פרסום ראשון: 06.13.12, 07:22
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