Yacimovich: Steinitz, Barak budget deal illegal

MK: Deal violates requirement to report salary arrangements.

yuval steinitz 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yuval steinitz 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) began her budget fight Monday, warning that the budgetary deal between the Treasury and the Defense Ministry was illegal.
Yacimovich complained that the deal struck between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz violates a law passed last year that expands governmental bodies’ requirements to report salary arrangements with their employees.
Yacimovich, who drafted the law, alleged that Steinitz and Barak made an agreement by which Barak was exempted from filing official reports on IDF salaries. Steinitz’s ministry, Yacimovich complained, had encouraged and supported the legislation, which was passed in July 2009 and requires the salaries of members of the defense establishment to be included in the annual reports by the governmental salary oversight bodies.
According to Yacimovich, Steinitz and Barak agreed that if Barak backed down from a number of his budget demands, Steinitz would provide an exemption from the 2009 law for IDF salaries.
Yacimovich’s legislation was originally designed to force the government to report on public sector employees who earn low salaries, as well as the top 4 percent of wage earners, as was required by the previously existing law. But it was the Treasury that insisted that Yacimovich’s legislation also include requirements to report on salaries of members of the security forces, the MK claimed. The final draft of the law said that for security reasons, security forces would not be required to present specific counts of wage-earners, but would simply present average salaries and salary scales at the various ranks.
When the law was about to pass, Barak, the chairman of Yacimovich’s own party, asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to pull coalition support for the bill. Steinitz, however, defended the need for the legislation during a debate between the two senior ministers on the plenum floor, and Yacimovich’s bill passed into law by unanimous vote.
“It is strange that the finance minister, who struggled for greater transparency in IDF salaries, would give up so easily – especially when there is no legal basis enabling him to do so,” said Yacimovich.
Steinitz’s office said it had no comment on the veracity of the Yacimovich’s claim regarding any aspect of the budget negotiations.