Painful budget cuts will need to be made to get Israel’s finances in order, the country’s new finance minister said in a missive to party supporters Saturday night.
Yair Lapid wrote that in his first meeting with treasury officials he found the country was facing a “monstrous overdraft,” which he would devote his first year in office to lowering.
“We will work hard, we will cut, we will lower expenses and we’ll also cut from painful places,” he wrote to Yesh Atid party supporters in a blog post. “It will be hard, it will be pressure-filled, but there is also an upside: If we do it now, it won’t take long.”
Treasury officials recently said that Israel was facing a larger deficit than originally thought — 4.2 percent instead of 2% — necessitating further tax raises and ministry budget cuts.
The posting was the first signal from Lapid that with the trappings of power would come the requirement to make unpopular moves, despite an election campaign that had attempted to harness the wave of anti-government sentiment over rises in the cost of living.
However, the finance minister wrote that in the end, the situation would improve.
“Whoever feels in the coming year that their situation is bad needs to know that it is temporary,” Lapid wrote. “As much as our action will be more decisive now, we’ll be able in the next year to do more.”
Central to the cuts will be the passing of a new state budget. The issue has been highly contentious, and was a key factor necessitating new elections which resulted in the swearing in a fresh government last week.
As expected, Lapid, who has been critical of disbursements to the ultra-Orthodox community, indicated that non-workers would not be spared.
“If you don’t have work, we need to give you enough opportunities for a proper job,” he wrote. “If you can work and don’t want to, the state’s role is to explain to you that that is very much not recommended.”