The Knesset .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Economic Arrangements Bill must be canceled, a forum of nongovernmental organizations wrote in a letter to MKs ahead of Wednesday’s first vote on the budget.
The group of organizations, many of which are associated with the Left, such as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights and Shatil, pointed to a long list of things they found to be problematic with the EAB, which is passed in tandem with the budget each year.
The EAB outlines
the basic economic policies that are meant to accompany the budget.
It is usually very long, and often features articles that have little to do with the budget.
According to the forum, the usual process of passing a budget and EAB “has negative and far-reaching ramifications for the government and society in Israel.”
The EAB strengthens the executive branch over the legislative and makes it harder for the Knesset to do its job of parliamentary oversight, by imposing an accelerated legislative process, the letter reads.
Other problems the NGOs cited are that the EAB increases the Finance Ministry’s power over other ministries and ignores their priorities and that the EAB does not allow the public to take part in and be informed about the decision-making and legislative processes.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon agreed last Tuesday to remove 18 items from the EAB, but that was insufficient for the forum of NGOs, which suggested that a third of the topics in this year’s EAB are not directly connected to the budget.
The letter listed 25 articles that they called to remove from the bill, including the way private hospitals charge for services, encouragement of construction in Arab towns and simplifying the planning and construction process in general and changing the way the poverty index is calculated.
Having so many articles in the EAB makes it impossible to have in-depth discussions of all of them in the short amount of time – between September 2 and November 20 – the Knesset Finance Committee has to review the budget, the letter explains.
In addition, the budget includes broad reforms, and the forum said that even if they are related to the budget, they should be legislated separately to allow discussions of an appropriate length.
“We think that all topics that have no direct connection to the state budget and reforms should be removed from the EAB, so that they are discussed in an exhaustive, democratic manner in the Knesset through its committees, so that there is an appropriate public discussion,” the letter reads.