Let's begin by removing all doubt. Political deals in order to get the budget approved in which benefits are given to a particular public are completely legal, and occur throughout the world. They are not the preserve of Israel's haredi (ultra orthodox) community - farmers, industrialists and other interested parties from all walks of life in Israel have enjoyed and continue to enjoy such benefits.
As 'political' deals are in effect legal, up to a certain limit, one has to ask what mechanism protects the taxpayer, and what ways are there to prevent loss of control and the entire system becoming corrupt? The acceptable way worldwide, and in Israel too, is to make these deals transparent, mainly through debates in the parliament and due diligence of the budget book.
This is exactly the place to recall the origin of MK Moshe Gafni's (United Torah Judaism) desire to add NIS 250,000 to the budget. Not only was this an act prevented any future negotiation over this money, but also prevented public debate about the substance of the payment. When the budget is two-year even MKs are denied the right to criticize economic actions for half of their term of office.
From this perspective, we should not be surprised at Gafni's actions or the actions of MKs that also want to gain benefits for the sector that they represent. Those like Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz who see a two year budget as a sign of stability not only forget their civil duty to make matter transparent, they also create an incentive and temptation to all those seeking to conceal money transfers that could be derailed by public opposition.
The problem is Steinitz who is in a position of inferiority vis-à-vis his officials, and has been pushed into supporting the two-year budget. In principle, there is no difference between Gafni and the Ministry of Financial officials. The officials, like the MKs do not want public debate and think it is better for the public to be kept in the dark on matters concerning fiscal policy and details of government spending.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 27, 2010
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