Steinitz: Defense to give up NIS 700m. to education
Defense cuts will fund free education for children aged 3-4, finance minister says; PM balancing, defense, social needs.
This year’s defense budget will be cut by NIS 700 million to fund free education for children aged 3-4, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Wednesday.His promise comes after weeks of speculation that the government was planning to abandon completely the NIS 3 billion shekel defense budget cut recommended by the Trajtenberg Report on socioeconomic change.RELATED:Barak blames Steinitz for defense budget dispute Defense to receive NIS 780m. at expense of other ministriesThe report, which was issued in response to last summer’s protests over the cost of living, recommended introducing free education for children aged 3-4 and after-hours education care for children aged 3-9.It said the measure should be partly funded through cutting the defense budget by NIS 3b. each year from 2012-16.Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to submit a proposal soon on what he believes is the proper balance between security, economic and social needs.Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich slammed the government after Wednesday’s announcement, saying the education program should be funded from NIS 3.5b.in excess tax revenues, and not from cuts to other budgets like health, welfare and internal security.“When one hand provides service, and the other cuts it, we are talking about misappropriation – about a blow to our fundamental needs – and further expansion of social inequality. If Prime Minister Netanyahu does not understand, it can be explained to him simply that this is akin to asking his eldest son to eat less in order to finance the meal of his youngest son.”Steinitz’s made the promise as he presented a Finance Ministry plan to adopt the “Chilean model” of privatization of the state pension system.In addition, Steinitz said the ministry would launch a program to locate the rightful owners of an estimated NIS 15b. in unclaimed money held in pension, provident and advanced training funds.