Treasury wins access to Defense's wage data

PMO acceded to Treasury’s request to get original figures, not just figures that have already been processed.

By NADAV SHEMER,
March 26, 2012 01:32
1 minute read.
The Kirya's General Staff building.

Kirya 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Treasury accountant-general will be provided access to all Defense Ministry wage data for the first time since the state’s establishment, under guidelines submitted by Prime Minister’s Office director-general Harel Locker on Sunday.

Locker acceded to the Treasury’s request to be provided with original figures, and not just figures that have already been processed by the Defense Ministry. The guidelines will apply to Defense Ministry payments to IDF soldiers, reservists and civilian employees.

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This decision allows the Treasury to enforce “tight supervision” of the defense budget, Locker told business daily Globes shortly afterward. He said defense officials eventually understood that cooperating with the Treasury would be to their benefit, and to the entire defense establishment’s benefit as well.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have long been at odds over this issue. Steinitz claims increased transparency in the defense budget will save the state NIS 12 billion year. But Barak and defense officials have maintained that the Treasury already accounts for every shekel spent by the ministry.

The Treasury gave no immediate reaction to Locker’s decision.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that the “main test” facing the government and Finance Ministry was to “provide a serious response to security challenges.”

The statement stressed that the defense budget – which totaled NIS 60b. in 2012 – is the lowest in history when taken as a portion of the overall national budget, and provides an insufficient answer to the current defense needs.

Some observers have argued that this year’s defense budget, which is the highest sum diverted to the military yet, is unjustifiably high.

Responding to the agreement, a senior defense source said, “We are in favor of transparency. We’ve never had a problem with transparency.”

Yet, in explaining the Defense Ministry’s apprehension towards the development, the source added, “We do not want to harm the authority of the chief of staff, or that of the defense minister.”

The source added that the agreement was the application of a previous government decision on the matter.


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