Finance Committee Demands ‘Transparency’ on ‘Extra’ Budget Distributions

YERUSHALAYIM -
Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, UTJ MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, UTJ MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, declared Tuesday that some NIS 14 billion ($5 billion) in “extra” government money will not be distributed to government ministries and offices, as has been customary in the past – unless the ministries tell the Committee what they plan to do with the money.

If in the past the Treasury distributed that money “blindly,” it was violating a High Court ruling which demands transparency on how such funds are spent, Rabbi Gafni said. “Not that I am so concerned about the ruling, but they do have a point,” he said. “It’s ridiculous to spend money without knowing how it is spent.”

The Finance Committee met in a special recess session Tuesday to discuss the funds, and other matters. The money itself comes from collections of taxes and fees that were not allocated to cover specific expenses in the state budget. However, since the government has debts which exceed this amount of money, it is as if  the funds have already been spent, and eventually they will be released. According to the law, the Treasury does not need the permission of the Committee to distribute the money, but it has become customary for the Committee to weigh in on the distribution of these so-called unspent, excess funds.

Ten out of the seventeen members of the Committee met Tuesday, and jointly called on the Treasury to publicly disclose what it plans to do with the money.