Knesset Finance Committee blocks NIS 1.82b transfer of surplus American defense aid

MK Slomiansky demands explanation on how surplus came about at time when Defense Ministry is seeking more funds.

Dollar bills 370 (photo credit: Steve Marcus / Reuters)
Dollar bills 370
(photo credit: Steve Marcus / Reuters)
The Knesset Finance Committee blocked the transfer of NIS 1.8 billion in “surplus” funds from the 2012 budget to the Defense Ministry on Monday, saying it required explanations to justify the transfer of such large funds.
“You cannot authorize such a large budget transfer casually, without comprehensive explanations on how such a surplus came about at a time that the defense establishment requires more funds. This while the other ministries are asked to tighten their belts,” said Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi).
A Finance Ministry official explained that the surplus funds were from American defense aid, left over from 2012.
“While in the shekel budget, a negligible sum of NIS 4 million remained, in the dollar (aid) budget a surplus remained,” said the representative.
“You cannot make use of American money for anything but approved purposes.” But the explanation did not satisfy Slomiansky and the committee.
The aid funds, for example, could have been used first, which would have left excess funds from the defense ministry’s Israel-based budget available.
The Finance Ministry and Defense Ministry have been involved in a prolonged disagreement over the defense budget, with the former arguing that the latter could “trim the fat” substantially.
In late October, the security cabinet unanimously voted to increase the defense budget by NIS 2.75b. giving the ministry a moderate victory; it had sought NIS 1.75b. more.