IDF soldiers in the Paratrooper Brigades take part in an evacuation drill.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding paving the way for a five-year defense budget plan, ending years of rancor between the defense and finance establishments.
Ya’alon said the agreement was “significant and very important” for the defense establishment.
“In recent years, the Defense Ministry and IDF worked under the veil of uncertainty and the inability to plan long-term processes in building forces, training, readiness, equipping, investing in people, in technology and in national social projects,” he said. The agreement would change that, he continued.
The memo sets out real spending figures for 2016-2020, increases the R&D budget and includes a 50-percent increase in soldier salaries starting January 1.
It also requires the Defense Ministry to initiate various reforms, including changing the model for pensions, taking non-core positions outside of the military framework and following the Goren Committee recommendations on the branch responsible for rehabilitating wounded soldiers. A joint committee will be formed to oversee efficiencies in spending. The MOU calls for full transparency between the ministries.
Yet Kahlon said there is still work to be done.
“The unfunded pensions are undoubtedly a weight on the defense budget. We understand this well. But it is not something that was born yesterday, and it will not be solved tomorrow,” he said.
The new package, he added, would help the Defense Ministry focus on maintaining a technological edge, which was difficult given a consistent level of “brain drain.”