Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Sixty percent of Israelis are opposed to increasing the defense budget if it means cutting health, education and welfare budgets, a Calcalist poll released Wednesday revealed. Similarly, 90% of the public want the Defense Ministry to find more efficiency in its budget, doing more for defense with that it has.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has been pushing for a whopping NIS 11 billion increase for his ministry in the 2015 budget. The 17.5% defense spending increase is a major sticking point for Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who has promised not to raise taxes.
Bank of Israel governor Karnit Flug has warned against excessive increases in the deficit, and said that cutting civilian spending would be bad for the economy.
If the show of public support for Lapid's position is music to his ears, however, other portions of the poll will go over less favorably. The poll also found that 40% of the population oppose his 0 VAT policy, and think it should be canceled.
The 0 VAT plan has become a major stumbling block in budgetary talks, even threatening the coalition's viability. Lapid has staked his credibility on advancing the plan, which would give young couples who served in the army a tax break on purchasing their first home.
Economists have warned, however, that the plan will be expensive and may actually cause overall prices to rise, pushing much of the benefit into the pockets of construction companies instead of young couples. A NIS 3 billion price tag has been bandied about for the plan, though Lapid said this week that it would cost NIS billion instead.