Report: Barak Spending Too Much

Special report by Comptroller says Defense Minister's annual Independence Day reception is growing larger annually, will cost NIS 1.5 M this year.

Gil Ronen, | updated: 21:43

Israel news photo: Flash 90

State Comptroller and Ombudsman, Judge (ret.) Micha Lindenstrauss, has published a special report that hammers Defense Minister Ehud Barak for overspending on the annual Independence Day reception at the Defense Ministry.

Barak came under the Comptroller's fire last year for the renting of lavish accomodations on an official trip to the Paris Air Salon last year, at a great expense to taxpayers.

The new report says that the number of people invited to the annual Independence Day reception rose by 60% between 2004 and 2009. While the number of invitations sent to the Defense Minister's guests grew by 230% in that period, the number of invitations sent to the IDF shrank by 20%.

The Comptroller reported that in 2009, 6,000 double invitations were sent out, one third of them to the Defense Minister's guests. The total cost of the event reached NIS 1.5 million. The connection of many of the guests to the event is unclear, the Comptroller noted: besides people connected to the defense establishment, the Defense Minister's guests included businessmen, journalists, writers and Labor party members.

The Comptroller's report determined that the list of guests to the event is put together by Barak, his wife, his aides and advisers, in an uncoordinated way that causes much confusion. Lindenstrauss wants a central coordinator appointed for the event, and would like to see this happen before this year's Independence Day reception.

The State Comptroller's Office stated that the Defense Ministry has already assured it that it is acting to fix the problems listed in the report.