Government to Propose Multi-Year Budget, Ask for Postponement

Government will call a special session Monday to urge MKs to change the budget's deadline to 120 days, and allow it to pass a two-year budget.

Contact Editor
David Lev,

Roni Bar-on
Roni Bar-on
Israel News Photo: (Flash 90)

The 2009 budget has still not been passed, and the government is approaching the deadline for its submission – 45 days after this year's elections. But with the new government just beginning to function, and the new Knesset holding barely any deliberations on the budget, the likelihood of it being passed within the deadline – which comes out during the Passover recess – is highly unlikely. As a result, the government will call a special session Monday to urge Knesset members to change the budget's deadline to 120 days.

In addition to allowing the government more time to pass the budget, the bill will provide a provision for allowing passage of a two-year budget – a tenet officials in the new government have said they intend to take advantage of this year. Taking into account the increased time for passage of the budget and the fact that it was already delayed because of the elections, the 2009 budget could become law as late as August. Officials said it makes sense to pass a two year budget, given the circumstances.

A Likud MK will propose the bill Sunday, and if it is passed on its first reading, it will be checked by the relevant Knesset committees and prepared for its second and third readings – to take place Monday afternoon or evening. With 74 Mks in Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition, the measure is expected to pass easily.

Since January, government ministries and offices have been funded based on the allocations they received in 2008, with one twelfth of that amount being forwarded to them monthly. As a result of the delays, however, offices have nearly stopped altogether instituting new projects, preferring to wait and see what their actual budget this year will be.

The plan has raised the ire of Knesset members in the opposition. Former Finance Minister Roni Bar-on called it "a foolish move that reveals the true intent of the government – to preserve itself, regardless of the cost to the economy. There is no person in the political and financial establishment of Israel who can foresee the needs of the country in 2010. This is a hasty and erroneous move, an underhanded attempt to push through major changes in the guise of economic issues that will greatly harm the Knesset's ability to fulfill its role in supervising the government."