Israel's budget deficit has widened significantly to 3.5%, due to a fall in tax revenue. The Ministry of Finance has reported these figures at the strange hour of 11pm on Thursday night in what would seem like an effort to reduce publicity of this worrying data and a developing budget deficit crisis.
In the first two months of 2019, the Ministry of Finance has reported a budget deficit of NIS 5.6 billion in contrast to a NIS 2.3 billion budget surplus in the first two months of 2018.
Tax revenues in February amounted to NIS 24.3 billion, 6.8% down from February 2018. Tax revenues fell 3.6% in the first two months of 2019 compared with the corresponding period of 2018, due to a high level of tax rebates.
A senior Jerusalem-based economist told "Globes," that these are "worrying figures" taking into account that we are only in February and the deficit has already jumped from just below 3% at the end of 2018, to 3.5%. "We hope that the weakness in government revenues is a one-off situation, otherwise we will have serious problems."
It has previously been reported that the State Comptroller is to investigate the budget deficit figure of below 3% in December, which was the government target, at the end of 2018. The fact that the figure jumped so much higher immediately after the start of 2019 has raised suspicions that creative accountancy was used by the Ministry of Finance led by Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 8, 2019
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