The Knesset Finance Committee began deliberating the government's proposal for a new budget for 2024 on Monday in the presence of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
The original budget for 2024, passed in May 2023, has become meaningless due to increased government spending and decreased revenues following Israel's war against Hamas, and Israeli law prohibits the government from submitting a new budget. I was asked. The updated budget passed first reading on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, with the Finance Committee meeting beginning a series of debates before a vote is taken before the budget returns to Parliament for a final vote. It was conducted.
Mr. Smotrich presented his budget proposal, which he said was based on three principles. Cut unnecessary budgets according to the needs of the war. Third, we sought to balance the needs of all sectors to avoid divisive conflicts.
“We are cutting [budgets] However, sacred cows are not slaughtered.Some will shout Bima. [Theater], and those screaming about settlement funds. Don't cut your budget to things that aren't important. All departments and ministries feel that while all are important, some are more important and these require difficult cuts. We tried to find a balance,” Smotrich said.
Committee members, mostly from the opposition parties, voiced concerns about the budget, especially following the decision on Friday by credit rating agency Moody's to downgrade Israel's credit rating for the first time in history and update Israel's economic outlook to “negative.” expressed.
Demands Smotrich's resignation
The committee's opposition leader Yesh Atid M.K. Vladimir Beliak said Smotrich should resign, calling the finance minister's policies “untrustworthy.”
“It was you [who] You who embraced a growing economy and turned it into a deficit within a year, you who damaged Israel's high-tech industry, you who said in July 2023 that Moody's warning was a “temporary fix”; And here the issue is resolved, this is the first time that Israel's credit rating has been lowered, and everything is being monitored, ”Beriak said.
Beliak pointed out that Prime Minister Smotrich promised in December that the budget deficit would not fall below 5%, but the new budget plans to reduce it to 6.6% by the end of 2024.
“On the 129th day of the war, we can no longer afford to continue working with you. You have failed. You must resign, and perhaps with true unity we can lead Israel out of its current situation.” You need to break away.''
The following speakers criticized various aspects of the budget. These included the fact that the budget ignored recommendations by Treasury experts to close six ministries deemed unnecessary for the war effort. The budget still includes billions of shekels in politically-based “coalition funds,” the bulk of which is earmarked for haredi schools that do not teach core secular subjects. The fact that Hadi men continue to receive exemption from military service in the IDF. more.