Barak nixes reservists' perk package

Finance Ministry opposes some proposals from package, including tax cuts, tuition assistance.

reservists 298.88 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
reservists 298.88 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In an unexpected move, Defense Minister Ehud Barak pulled a proposed benefits package for active reservists off the table during Sunday's cabinet meeting following a dispute with the Finance Ministry, which is opposed to some of the proposed benefits. Barak demanded that the package be discussed as a whole, and not as separate offers. Sunday's meeting was the first time in two years the issue of benefits for reservists was raised at a cabinet meeting. Ahead of the session, reservist advocates expressed concern that the proposed benefits would not be approved. "The intentions are good, but implementing them is problematic," reservist Aleh Miknovsky said. "We've been hearing about proposed benefits for years, but when they're on the table, [the government] starts looking at every penny, and in the end doesn't approve anything." The proposed benefits for reservists include a significant income tax discount and discounts on municipal taxes and the annual television tax. In addition, reservists would receive tuition assistance and preference for government jobs. "This time, the package is really comprehensive, but it makes demands on all the ministries. When it comes to their pockets, there's nothing behind the big headlines," Miknovsky said. He added that the money to ease reservists' conditions would be a minor defense expenditure. "If the security establishment were really important, one percent of the defense budget could solve the problems. The Defense Ministry has to take responsibility [for finding funds] rather than passing the issue on to other ministries," Miknovsky said.