Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cabinet approves 2008 State budget


for a few minutes at least, I held on to hope that Olmert wouldn't get a budget approved and we could get rid of him .

Sigh. It seems there is nothing that will save us from this evil.

21 ministers vote in favor of Israel’s largest budget ever; Shaul Mofaz, four Shas ministers oppose. Bar-On announces 3% cutbacks in most government offices,7340,L-3436756,00.html
Ronny Sofer
Published: 08.12.07, 21:41 / Israel Money

The government approved its budget for 2008 Sunday, as 21 ministers voted in favor, and five ministers, including Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and the four Shas ministers voted against it

The budget spans NIS 300 billion – about $70 billion – and is the country's largest ever.

"The budget reflects the government's goals for 2008, both from the deficit and the overhead points of view," said Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On, adding "the decisions made are testimony to the government's ability to rise to its own challenge."

Bar-On told the ministers the government would have to make a 3% across-the-board cutback in its 2008 budget – some NIS 300 million ($71 million).

The budget cuts will span all government offices except for the Education, Defense Ministry and Social Affairs ministries, and the money is to be used to fund the various increases agreed upon in the preliminary budget discussions.

"This is a serious, responsible budget, which keeps the economy stable and considering the strategic, geopolitical circumstances in the region, gives the maximum to our defense needs," said Bar-On.

"The budget coincides with the government's wish to prioritize education and welfare, and even after the adjustment we had to make, this budget is a blessing, not a curse," he added.

The additions to the defense, education and welfare budgets, despite the overall budget reduction, "is a historic accomplishment not seen in the past," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, after the government approved the 2008 national budget.

Olmert praised Education Minister Yuli Tamir, saying "her involvement led to increase in teachers' salaries, which will affect Israel's educational system positively,".

'Irresponsible act'
Several ministers clashed over the budget's financial layout, in the meeting prior to its confirmation.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter voted in favor of the budget only after he was guaranteed an additional half a billion shekels for his office ($118 million), saying "the original budget might have destroyed the police… the additional fund would go towards empowering the police and the Israel prison service, and the enhancement of the personal safety of every Israeli citizen."

Mofaz left the cabinet meeting abruptly, protesting the cuts in the budget for the fight against road accidents.

Upon leaving the meeting, Mofaz left a note for the Prime Minister, saying "this is an irresponsible act and I will not take part in it."

Sources in the Finance Ministry accused Mofaz of creating a media spin, telling Ynet the National Road Safety Authority would have enough funds lefts over from the 2007 budget to cover the Transportation Ministry's needs in the matter.

The Finance Ministry, said Bar-On, would continue its talks with all government offices, in an effort to iron out all the details before the budget is presented to the Knesset's plenum.

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