Shekel money bills.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Opposition MKs blasted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s 2015 budget plans Sunday, saying they are hurting all Israelis, especially the poor.
“Netanyahu and Lapid’s agreement shows the next budget will be socially destructive,” opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) said. “Not one citizen’s situation will improve because of this agreement.”
Herzog said Lapid is bluffing in presenting achievements and saying he is defending the middle class while reducing the education, welfare and health budgets, cuts the Labor leader said are a “direct hit” on the middle class and the poor.
“This budget ratifies the government’s double failure in the economic and diplomatic areas. This government has no vision and does not give hope to Israel’s citizens in either of these areas… The 2015 budget must be the end of this government,” he stated.
According to Shas leader Arye Deri, the government is shamelessly putting its hands into Israelis’ pockets.
“Bibi and Lapid’s deal is a liquidation sale and the only thing left for the lower-middle classes and the weaker population, after cutting government services while throwing nearly NIS 3 billion into the zero-VAT plan and Lapid’s ego, is a scandal,” he said.
Deri added that Shas sees Netanyahu as directly responsible for “eliminating social welfare policies” and will work to bring down the current government.
According to MK Esawi Frej (Meretz), Netanyahu gave into Lapid’s demands out of fear of an early election.
“All of the talk about the market’s stability and maintaining the budget framework faded because of the fear [Interior Minister] Gideon Sa’ar’s resignation caused,” Frej said.
“Lapid got his zero-VAT plan, the Defense Ministry got another NIS 6b. and the Israeli public got another cut to all other ministries, which means less education and welfare and more poverty and distress.”
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On wrote a letter to Lapid, asking that he commit to not changing the 2015 budget significantly after the Knesset votes to approve it.
Gal-On said the budget should not be changed by more than 5 percent and any change to a specific article or sub-article of the budget should not be by more than 20% without approval from the Knesset plenum.
“Data from recent years shows that despite the celebratory declarations at the beginning of each year about the deficit target, the size of the defense budget and the different uses of the budget, the government is not committed to those declarations and in reality the budget is completely different,” she said.
Research Gal-On ordered from the Knesset Research and Information Center showed that in recent years, changes in the budget reached as much as 10%, equating to tens of billions of shekels.
The part of the budget that was most changed was defense spending, which in some years reached more than NIS 10b.
over the allotted figure.
“Since significant changes in the budget are not a onetime thing, rather a phenomenon that is repeated every year, proves that this is a method in which the government and Finance Ministry hide their true priorities,” she said. “Therefore, I ask that together with the annual budget, you commit publicly to standing by the budget’s goals including the deficit and the budgets of different ministries.”