The government collected a tax surplus of NIS 1.8 billion in March, bringing the surplus for the year thus far to NIS 7.9b., more than double the NIS 3.7b. collected in the first quarter of 2005.
The surplus was attributed to lower spending levels in government ministries, while tighter budgetary restraints built into the law cut NIS 9.1b. in spending during March, compared to previous years. Total spending for the quarter was NIS 3b. less than the average for the period, according to the Ministry of Finance.
Because the government was operating without an approved budget for the first three months of the year, spending was limited by law to one-twelfth of the entire budget for the previous year.
Government spending was very tightly watched during this period, the Finance Ministry said, and no more than NIS 66.8b. was spent during that period. It also noted that exceptionally high debts paid during the period left only NIS 33.7b. of that amount for ministry expenditures.
Due to the surplus, the accountant-general has decided that no government bonds would be issued in April or May, and that June offerings would be no more than NIS 1.5b.
Government financing delivered a net deficit of some NIS 10b. in March, and a NIS 8b. deficit for the first three months of the year. That despite the privatization of Israel Discount Bank, which brought in about NIS 1b. to the state's coffers.
The country had a surplus of NIS 1.4b. in funds for local uses in March, and an NIS 8.4b. surplus for the first quarter. For overseas operations, it posted a NIS 500 million surplus for March, but a deficit of the same amount for the whole of the first quarter.