Defense Ministry: Budget shortfall of billions

Moshe Ya'alon
Moshe Ya'alon

The Defense Ministry is threatening to stop training exercises and other operations at the start of 2015.

The Defense Ministry is threatening "to shut down the army" and stop training exercises and other operations at the start of 2015. This follows Defense Ministry claims that the Finance Ministry transferred to it, without its knowledge and consent, financial obligations worth NIS 4.6 billion that the Finance Ministry itself had been supposed to fund. The Defense Ministry recently ordered freezing the moving of IDF bases to the Negev until a solution is found for financing the NIS 1.5-2 billion required for implementing the plan in 2015. This refers to the plan to set up the IDF Communications and Intelligence Corps new headquarters in Beersheva and near Omer.

At the Security Cabinet meeting yesterday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon accused the Finance Ministry of "deceit," by including the aforementioned amounts in the overall budget, which was approved for the Defense Ministry. The Defense Ministry also accused the Finance Ministry of not standing by its past commitments and not allocating money for "national projects" including the authority for removing landmines, severance payments for Israel Military Industries employees, and financing procurement of a sixth submarine from Germany.

During the Security Cabinet discussions yesterday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz also raised a financial demand that surprised the Finance Ministry. Gantz demanded a NIS 1 billion supplement to allow for raising the salaries of army personnel in 2015 on the grounds that their salaries have not risen for some time. Gantz's budgetary demand stunned Ministry of Finance officials and some of the cabinet members. In attempt to calm tempers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is used to these frequent quarrels between the Defense and Finance Ministries on the budget instructed his Director General Harel Locker and the Head of the National Security Council Yossi Cohen to work towards forming a compromise between the two ministries. At the same time a committee headed by General (res.) Yonatan Locker is formulating a new outline to base the defense budget on in the coming years.

As part of the 2015 budget, the Defense Ministry has already received a NIS 6 billion supplement, which was approved on October 7 with the support of the Defense Minister. The defense budget was increased to NIS 57 billion (not including US military aid), and according to the Finance Ministry NIS 4.3 billion of this amount will be a one-time supplement. The cabinet decision was greeted angrily by the Defense Ministry that had demanded to increase the annual defense budget to NIS 62 billion in accordance with the Brodet Committee recommendations, and wanted an NIS 8 billion annual supplement every year, for 3-6 years, for equipment and preparing for future confrontations. This as part of the lessons learned from Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in the summer.

The Defense Ministry claims that there is a billions of shekels shortfall in the budget approved for 2015 for financing ongoing IDF operations. "Globes" asked the Defense Ministry to give details of how the NIS 6 billion supplement would be spent but awaits full details. It seems that the Defense Ministry did not know or understand that the budget approved by the government already included financing for projects that the Finance Ministry had agreed to participate in. Government sources told "Globes" that "if the Defense Ministry did not pay attention or did not understand something in the budget proposal before it supported it in the cabinet they can only complain to themselves."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on October 27, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014

Moshe Ya'alon
Moshe Ya'alon
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