Knesset Finance Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) said Sunday that he was calling a meeting of the Committee in order to hear testimony from Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
Lapid, said Smoliansky, had made a great many promises in his presentation of the highlights of the state budget earlier Sunday, stressing that taxes would not be raised – but he did not say where the money to pay for those promises would come from.
“I am happy that Lapid and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have come to an agreement on the budget, but there are still many questions,” Slomiansky said. “Lapid promised that there would be no more cuts in ministry budgets and that he would increase funds for the Defense Ministry by NIS 6 billion – all this without raising taxes. I am cordially inviting the Finance Minister to come and explain how he plans to do this.”
Besides the riddle of where the money to pay for programs would come from, Slomiansky added he was “very uncomfortable” with the budget deficit goals Lapid set.
In his press conference, Lapid said that the new budget will "fulfill what we have promised to the Israeli public – providing social services, security, and addressing concerns about housing, welfare and education. We expect to have higher growth in 2015 than in most European countries," Lapid said.
Lapid confirmed the recent reports that the budget for the Defense Ministry will get a budget increase of NIS 6 billion, The deficit target will be 3.4%. At the press conference, Lapid said that he had resisted pressure to raise taxes to deal with expenses generated by Operation Protective Edge. “Raising taxes is the last thing the economy needs now,” Lapid said. “We will expand the deficit in a measured and reasonable manner,” he said.
Lapid also pledged to “continue to struggle on all fronts to reduce the cost of living in Israel,” and if he has to oppose the security establishment to accomplish, then so be it.