Budget limitations to hurt earthquake readiness

Alternative energy projects also to receive reduced funds.

Mexico Earthquake311 (photo credit: AP)
Mexico Earthquake311
(photo credit: AP)
Since the Finance Ministry rejected the National Infrastructures Ministry’s request for a substantial increase in its operations budget late last week, several major projects won’t be launched, the latter ministry’s spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
These projects include energy efficiency improvement and earthquake preparation.
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While Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beiteinu) met late Tuesday night to discuss the budgets of Israel Beiteinu-headed ministries – of which the National Infrastructures Ministry is one – the meeting did not generate any specific changes to the budget as yet, National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau’s spokesman Chen Ben-Lulu said Wednesday.
The ministry’s operations budget, sans employee salaries, was NIS 12 million in 2010, with a one-time addition of NIS 68m.
The ministry had requested that it be increased to NIS 224m. to develop the energy market.
According to a breakdown supplied by ministry spokeswoman Maya Etzioni, NIS 25m.
of that sum would be for planning how to absorb the natural gas that will be streaming in from off-shore gas deposits in a few years. Another NIS 25m.
would be used to implement the recommendations of the interministerial steering committee on earthquakes.
NIS 42m. would be needed to implement the ministry’s energy efficiency plan, which aims to cut electricity demand by 20 percent by 2020. Energy and alternative energy research and development would need NIS 63m., and another NIS 12m. would be needed for statutory planning relating to natural gas and cooking gas. The last NIS 57m. would be used for the ministry’s oil and quarries unit, Gas Administration, Electricity Administration and more.
However, the Finance Ministry decided to leave the operations budget at NIS 12m. for 2011 and 2012.
As a result, the above-mentioned projects will be unable to be implemented at all, since only the earthquake preparedness plan was even budgeted in the base operations budget – at a mere NIS 1.5m., according to Etzioni.
However, budget negotiations have not yet been finalized, so changes may still be possible.