How much will Israel's new government cost?

The new government will cost a total of NIS 238.5m., or an annual increase of NIS 79m.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz at the swearing in of the Knesset (photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY / POOL)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz at the swearing in of the Knesset
(photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY / POOL)
Described by some as “badly inflated” and others as “wasteful,” the swearing in of Israel’s largest government ever inevitably comes at a price to taxpayers.
With 34 ministers and seven deputy ministers at last count, the unprecedented size of the “emergency government” has stoked controversy at a time when more than one million Israelis – one-quarter of the workforce – find themselves out of work. At the same time, supporters of the new government point to the much greater cost of the only alternative: another election.
So, how much will the new government cost?
Addressing the Special Committee on Basic Law Proposal: The Government (Amendment – Alternating Government) in late April, Finance Ministry Budget Division representative Hezi Cohen outlined the cost of additional ministries:
The annual cost of every minister is NIS 6.5 million, including NIS 3.5m. on wages for the minister and his bureau; NIS 1.7m. for security; NIS 600,000 for property expenditure, including bureau rent, municipal taxes and bills; NIS 500,000 on operational expenses; and NIS 217,000 on vehicle expenditure.
According to data presented by Cohen, a deputy minister costs NIS 2.5m. per year.
Based on these figures, the most recent caretaker government, which featured 23 ministers and four deputies, would have cost the taxpayer approximately NIS 159.5m. annually.
The new government will cost about NIS 238.5m., or an annual increase of NIS 79m. During his address to the Knesset on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the government would cost an additional NIS 85m.
A fourth round of elections would cost NIS 590m.-NIS 620m. in direct costs, in addition to NIS 1.1b.-NIS 1.2b. in loss of productivity on Election Day, according to Finance Ministry estimates.
The truly problematic costs are not found in the ministerial bureaus, but rather in the extensive list of ministries, some experts argue. Israel’s 34th government, formed in May 2015, had 29 different ministries, compared with 23 ministries in 2001.
In a recent study, Israel Democracy Institute researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig highlighted that 35%-45% of a ministry’s expenditure is spent on staff. Should government ministries be merged and combined, significant savings could be secured.
A government decision to “conservatively” reduce the number of ministries from 29 to 17 could have achieved savings valued at NIS 800m. during the years 2020-2022. Such a move also would have reduced ministerial bureaucracy and increased decision-making efficiency, Kenig said.