Budget zips through Finance Committee

Defense budget raised by some NIS 2b. to return to pre-war supplies level.

hirchson budget 298 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
hirchson budget 298 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Knesset Finance Committee passed the NIS 283 billion 2007 state budget and the accompanying Economic Arrangements bill by a 10 to four vote on Tuesday in some eight hours of voting, in what some said was the fastest budget vote in the committee's history. The full Knesset plenum will convene by next Wednesday to pass the budget in its final readings. This would mark the first time that the budget was passed on time, without the usual extension until March, in some four years. "All of the parties in the coalition, out of responsibility and seriousness, decided to keep the budget the way it is," Olmert said in an economic speech in Haifa. "We are used to the usual witch hunt that threatens political stability and sometimes even leads to elections. But this time, there will be no extortion, demands or threats. Just the quick and responsible passage of the budget." Labor faction chairman Yoram Marciano went as far as saying that by agreeing to surrender Labor's budget demands, he had "cleaned the country from political extortion." "I made concessions, because the state is more important than personal interests," Marciano said. "There are times when a man has to take responsibility." But Marciano later said that in return for giving up his demands, Kadima had promised to give Labor the Welfare portfolio next week. Sources close to Olmert denied the claim of Marciano, who is interested in the portfolio for himself. Speaking at a Knesset committee debate on the social ramifications of the 2007 budget, Dr David Klein, former Governor of the Bank of Israel, on Tuesday attacked the government for failing to provide a social agenda and proper social policies. "Solving the deteriorating socioeconomic situation in the country is not about political horse-trading and demands over the extent of government budget cuts on social expenditure but a matter of having a social agenda with clear targets and policies, similar to the economic policies that are being successfully formed by the government," said Klein.