Industry, Histadrut lobby against budget

The Manufacturers Association of Israel and the Histadrut Labor Federation made a concerted effort to encourage cabinet ministers to oppose the 2009 budget.

Braverman (photo credit: Courtesy)
Braverman
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Manufacturers Association of Israel and the Histadrut Labor Federation made a concerted effort Sunday to encourage cabinet ministers to oppose the 2009 budget in its current form. Throughout the day, Manufacturers Association president Shraga Brosh and Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini held meetings with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, Shas chairman Eli Yishai, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog and MKs from the Gil Pensioners Party to build opposition against the proposed budget. "From our point of view, the Treasury has presented a budget running on autopilot that is waiting for a catastrophe," Brosh said. "With the reality of a global slowdown and an expected slowdown in our economy, a responsible budget for 2009 needs to offer resources for developing engines of growth, building infrastructures and increasing investments into research and development." "It is irresponsible and there is no hurry to vote on the budget today [Sunday] before a new government is elected," he said. "In any event, once there is a new government there will be changes made to the budget, so what's the point? The budget vote should be postponed until a new government is formed." Knesset Finance Committee chairman Avishay Braverman (Labor), speaking at a meeting of the association on Sunday in Tel Aviv, called the budget discussions a "political melodrama." The main bone of contention in Sunday's cabinet debate over the budget proposal concentrated on the increase of spending. Over recent months, Braverman has been urging the government to increase budget spending for 2009 by 2.5 percent instead of the ceiling of 1.7%. The difference between the 1.7% proposed by the Treasury and the 2.5% demanded by Labor would be about NIS 2 billion. "There is no need to rush and pass the budget today [Sunday]," Braverman said. "What bothers me is the cheap melodrama surrounding the budget debate, hailing that if we don't vote today, the market will crash and the economy will fall apart, instead of focusing on serious and professional debate. "The budget can be passed until February 2009, but first it needs to go through my committee - the Knesset Finance Committee. I don't want to issue threats, but the Labor Party will not vote in favor of the budget unless spending is increased significantly."