(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The government is not giving the Knesset Finance Committee the chance to thoroughly review the state budget, opposition MKs lamented Tuesday.
The concerns came in light of the cabinet continuing to postpone planned meetings to discuss the 13 month budget, which will be set in motion in December, and the fact that the budget and the Economic Arrangements Bill that is passed in tandem with it are supposed to go to a first reading in the plenum by August 31.
MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid), a former deputy finance minister, said it is critical for the market that the government stick to the date it set, August 31.
“Now, six weeks before the budget [comes to the Knesset], the government did not have one discussion of its framework,” Levy said. “The ministers still don’t know what their ministries’ budgets will be and which reforms will be enacted.
Soon [the government] will ask for another postponement in order to keep the Knesset from doing its work.”
Levy said he intercepted a Finance Ministry document with different options as to how to cut ministries’ budgets, including heavy decreases in the Welfare and Health ministries and in higher education.
“It cannot be that this can happen without a serious discussion in the government, with the relevant ministers participating, and of course, it cannot happen without a discussion in the Knesset,” he added.
Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said the minute he receives any document relating to the budget he will hold a meeting.
“The government can make decisions in two weeks, but here, we’re going to have a serious, in-depth discussion of the budget. The Finance Ministry will not release a budget and Economic Arrangements Bill that were not thoroughly discussed. No reform will pass without the Finance Committee’s examination and monitoring,” he declared.
MK Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Union) said he understands why there is no discussion at the moment, because there are no documents for the committee to review, but complained that the longer they go without reviewing the process, the smaller the MKs’ influence on the budget will be.
“Make sure that the committee’s influence is not harmed because the government is moving slowly,” he told Gafni.
Gafni said as far as he’s concerned, the government should take less time to allow the Knesset more time, because he will not shorten the process in the committee by even one day.
“The Finance Committee will not be a rubber stamp to authorize the budget and the Economic Arrangements Bill and will have its say about the country’s socioeconomic agenda,” he vowed.