Comptroller Says IDF Pensions Ballooned Behind Finance Ministry’s Back

YERUSHALAYIM -
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira. (Yonatan Sinde/Flash90)
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira. (Yonatan Sinde/Flash90)

Pension payouts to retiring IDF soldiers have been ballooning to amounts far exceeding budgetary limits without the knowledge of either the Finance Ministry of the Chief of Staff, according to a report from the State Comptroller, Globes said on Sunday.

Comptroller Judge Yosef Shapira revealed that retirement benefits to career soldiers in 2013-2015 were somehow increased by an average of 8.5 percent beyond the pension allowance to which they were legally entitled. Some were awarded as much as 19 percent more than they were supposed to receive.

The benefits were granted “behind the Ministry of Finance’s back, with no consideration of the benefits’ cumulative effect on the state budget…” Globes said in summarizing the comptroller’s findings.

According to Shapira’s office, this largesse has increased the government’s fiscal burden by almost 3 billion shekels, without any effective oversight by the responsible agencies.

“We found no calculations of the effect of the percentage increase on the actuarial liability and the cumulative cost in the state budget, which is substantially greater than the annual cost of those retiring that year, as calculated by the IDF and the Ministry of Defense. The personnel department had no complete and detailed list of these increases.”

The IDF itself has lost track of the whole matter. When the State Comptroller’s Office demanded from IDF Personnel Directorate head Brigadier General Hagi Topolanski and Ministry of Defense budget director and IDF chief of staff financial advisor Brigadier General Sasson Hadad the annual cost of the unfunded pensions for all IDF retirees, the army was unable to provide the figures.

Last summer, the person responsible for pension payments in the IDF personnel directorate told the State Comptroller’s Office staff, “We are unable to produce an exact figure for the budget cost, and we lack precise information on our percentage increases. Clarifying the precise information will require the opening of thousands of retirees’ files over the years.”

Current IDF chief Gabi Eizenkot was similarly at a loss. The report quoted him as telling representatives from the Comptroller’s Office, “It was hard to get the data. It wasn’t as if I asked for the figures and got them immediately.”

Benny Gantz was Chief of Staff until February 2015, when he was succeeded by Gadi Eizenkot.

Regarding a group of career army retirees who received a 19 percent increase, the Chief of Staff said, “This is a very small proportion, and when they told me about it, I said that it appeared to be unacceptable. I think a 19 percent supplement is illogical and unacceptable. I regard it as a problem.”

Eizenkot said that he was ordering every case of an increase of over 8 percent to be brought to him for review.

“In every such case, let them explain to me exactly why more than 8 percent should be given,” he said.