Yisrael Katz (Likud) replaced Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) as Israel’s Finance Minister Monday, at a ministry ceremony a day after the new unity government was formally sworn-in.
During the ceremony, Katz promised that his ministry would draw up an exit strategy from the ongoing recession that has left the Israeli economy with its highest unemployment level on record, resulting from the coronavirus lockdowns imposed by the government.
“There will be a plan,” said Katz at his inauguration ceremony Monday, Reuters reported.
“It will be accompanied by reforms, ... competition.”
"This ministry is the key ministry. The public, every sector, is our responsibility, and we will do everything we can to make things easier for the public."
Katz, who previously served as Israel’s Foreign Minister, will have ninety days to pass this year’s state budget – a requirement under Israel’s Basic Law.
Israel’s deficit – which had been rising even before the coronavirus pandemic - has spiraled out of control, as tax incomes dwindle and unemployment claims soar. As a result of the government’s coronavirus restrictions, unemployment has soared from 3.5% to 27.6%.
The government recently approved a special economic stimulus package of 100 billion shekels ($28 billion), further adding to the state deficit, which is expected to top 10% of Israel’s GDP in 2020.