Finance Ministry to Present Austerity Budget

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Finance Ministry plans to cut 35 billion shekels from the state budget over the next two years aimed at bringing a ballooning deficit under control.

The areas targeted for reductions include subsidies for poor families, defense, infrastructure and government payrolls.

A cutback of 12 billion is projected for 2013, with the remaining 23 billion for 2014.

The plan calls for deep cuts in family support, which reached 7.5 billion in 2012. The Ministry hopes to reduce it by as much as 3 billion by 2014. About 4 billion shekels is to be trimmed from the defense budget.

This was the austerity plan, more or less, that forced Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to call early elections when coalition partners, notably UTJ and Shas, refused to go along.

The budget proposals will be among the major challenges, along with the issue of the draft, that will face the 19th Knesset.