Knesset-Finance Ministry row over Economic Arrangements Bill rears its head again

The Economic Arrangements Bill is passed in tandem with each budget and outlines the basic economic policies that are meant to accompany it.

August 30, 2016 15:51
2 minute read.
KNESSET SPEAKER Yuli Edelstein addresses the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

KNESSET SPEAKER Yuli Edelstein addresses the Bundestag’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. (photo credit: BOAZ ARAD)

It’s become a ritual in recent years: Whenever the Finance Ministry prepares an Economic Arrangements Bill to accompany the budget, the Knesset speaker and legal adviser lament its lengthiness. Eventually, the sides reach a compromise.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein kept up his side of the tradition on Tuesday, sending a letter to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon demanding that the bill be shrunken down to a more manageable size.

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The Economic Arrangements Bill – passed in tandem with each budget – outlines the basic economic policies that are meant to accompany it. It is usually very long, and often features articles that have little to do with the budget.

Edelstein’s letter came after he received one from Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon, in which the latter wrote that the current draft of the EAB includes dozens of articles that amend existing laws in many areas, many of which lack a direct connection to the budget, as well as a number of complex and controversial economic reforms.

Yinon also warned that the time line that the MKs have in which to prepare the budget bill and EAB – essentially just November and December, unless the government requests an extension until March – is too short for the draft he saw.

“Under these circumstances, I wish to warn that the Economic Arrangements Bill in its current format and size will violate the proper legislative process at its core, and I recommend that you do not table it unless it is significantly shorter,” Yinon wrote.

Edelstein said that the EAB cannot be used as a way to circumvent the regular process of passing a law for policies unrelated to the budget.

“We have the responsibility to balance between the public interest in promoting reforms to lower the cost of living and encourage growth, with the proper legislative process that allows discussion of the different topics,” he stated.

MK Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Union) called the long EAB a trick, by which the Finance Ministry “puts in dozens of fake articles in order to remove them and authorize serious laws without a serious discussion.”

Also on Tuesday, Edelstein announced that there will no longer be physical copies of the budget and Economic Arrangements Bill. In the past, the legislation was printed on paper, often reaching thousands of pages in a large box.

From now on, digital copies will be sent to all of the MKs and the press.

The change is part of the ongoing Green Knesset effort to make the legislature more environmentally friendly.

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