Ministers of Israel’s coalition government Friday, Feb. 24, approved the state budget for two years: NIS484 bn ($132bn) for 2023 and NIS 513bn ($140bn) for 2024. Tourist Minister Haim Katz boycotted the vote after the Treasury refused to drop VAT for tourists..
Instead of free schooling for pre-school children up to the age of 3, as promised by the government, this budget grants a free ride only to two and three-year olds, for now, with the next step coming next year. At the same time, the education budget of NIS84bn ($23bn) is the largest ever.
The Minister for National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, won an extra NIS14bn ($3.9bn) – more than half of the NIS14bn he applied for, to be spent on massive recruitment to the police force and prison staff and the establishment of a new national guard.
At the budget’s presentation to the government on Thursday, the Finance Ministry’s chief economist Shira Greenberg, joined the grim forecasts resounding from a large body of economist of the high risks looming from the government’s judicial overhaul legislation. She said,“ Increasing uncertainty in the investment environment” resulting from damage to the strength and independence of state institutions may harm economic activity and inhibit private investment.”
Her warning was echoed by Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron who maintained that a economic crisis was an immediate threat.