First reading of 2008 Budget passed

October 18, 2007 05:24

Lengthy debate ends with 59-29 coalition victory; Budget criticized for lack of social sensitivity.

1 minute read.

shalom 88

silvan shalom 248 88 aj. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

The first reading of the 2008 budget was passed in the Knesset plenum Wednesday night by a majority of 59 to 29. The vote came after a debate that lasted long into the night, with MKs criticizing the dearth of funds slated to be diverted to social issues. "This is a responsible budget that provides answers to security needs and will spearhead structural changes in the economy," Finance Minister Roni Bar-On told the plenum before the vote. "Israel must embrace budgetary responsibility," he pleaded. "The budget shows a 1.7% increase in governmental spending, and an additional NIS 1.2 billion that we have saved in interest payments on the reduced national debt," he said, adding that "in a free-market world, in a world of transparency one cannot espouse artificial solutions. Bar-On warned that budging from the government's budgetary objectives would be a "grievous" mistake. Former finance minister MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) insisted that the coming year's budget would be no different from previous ones. "In 2006 they said 'this is a Bibi (Binyamin Netanyahu) budget,' and now we have been served with the 2007 and 2008 budgets, and what's the message?" he asked. "We were told that we would be given a budget with a social message. Has this promise been fulfilled?"

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