Defense Ministry Requests 18 Billion Shekel Raise
The Defense Ministry has requested an extra 16-18 billion shekels ($4.6-5.2 billion) for 2014-2015, Globes reports Sunday, to cover costs from Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
Six to eight billion shekels ($1.7-2.3 billion) covers the cost of the operation itself, according to the report, as well as an additional 11 billion ($3.1 billion) for follow-up costs and rebuilding in 2015.
"The number is far-fetched," a Globes senior economics editor stated Sunday. "It is wishful thinking. The problem is that the numbers tend to become fixed, even when they are unfounded."
The chief concern among political analysts and economists is that the burden will be shouldered by the taxpayers, a claim Finance Minister Yair Lapid vehemently denied Thursday.
"The annual budget deficit now stands at 2.5% of the GDP, while the deficit target for this year is 3% GDP," Lapid said. "So we have more room under budget in order to deal with the costs."
"As for 2015, I will not pretend that the operation does not create new dilemmas," he continued. "We are working with the security system; we now know to build your budget better."
"We have quite a few ways to save money and become more efficient," he added.
Lapid has reassured the public over and over again that the operation does not have a "price tag" attached and that Israel's security - not its budget - are top priority.
Earlier Sunday, the Security Cabinet approved a proposal to allocate 9.6 million shekel ($2.7 million) for renovating community and educational buildings in the Gaza Belt in the short term, and a total of 13.5 million shekel ($3.8 million) spent on the project by 2016.