Get ready for elections - that's the message that emerges from Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu's dramatic announcement of his retirement. No state budget will be approved in August, and not in September or November either. Against that background, Hizkiyahu has presented us with the possibility that was inconceivable up to now: that he will leave even if there is no state budget, in the midst of running the country on the basis of a provisional budget. Even in normal times, the consequences of something like that would give those in charge of the economy sleepless nights, and with the coronavirus pandemic, these are not normal times.
Hizkiyahu's resignation is no surprise. As "Globes" has previously reported, he planned to retire a long time ago. A convenient time to do so could have been after the formation of a new government following the election of March 2019. Hizkiyahu could not have imagined that that election would lead Israel to another two indecisive elections. He never thought that at the end of his term the responsibility would be imposed on him of running the country on a continuation budget. He never conceived in his worst nightmares an event like the coronavirus pandemic, that would force the Ministry of Finance to raise and recycle debt amounting to an unprecedented quarter of a trillion shekels.
The man who came to the Ministry of Finance in order to manage major infrastructure projects and to raise Israel's rating as a place to do business, found himself in the midst of a perfect storm while on the ship confusion reigns, chiefly at the helm. But the accountant general, a true civil servant, was prepared to absorb all that and continue. His sense of responsibility motivated him to carry on and not leave his post until a new budget was approved.
In the past few days, it became clear to Hizkiyahu that the nightmare scenario was about to receive another twist: that the state budget that he had waited for for an entire year would not be approved in the coming months, and that he had no choice but to make a decision and draw a line. Hizkiyahu will not remain at the Ministry of Finance after October, and the way things look now, the State of Israel will be left without a CFO.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 28, 2020
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