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What is going on in the Finance Committee? How does it influence the State’s budget? And what can you do? Rabbi Idit Lev tells us about the new initiative of the Public Knowledge Workshop.
One day, when we were looking for an apartment to rent in Haifa, we drove in our car and listened to the radio channel 2. They were talking about the Finance Committee meeting to which only two MKs showed up - Haim Oron and Rubi Rivlin. The discussion was about the Finance office’s request for money transfers, a routine discussion, but MKs Oron and Rivlin thought it was a disgrace that no one from the coalition arrived to this discussion including the chair) and voted against the request.
I watched the Finance Committee discussions for many hours and I am sure that the two MKs before they decided to vote against, joked with each other.
The issue of transferring money was recently in the media, and I do not know if the public is interested in this issue, but I would like to add a few words.
We all know that every second year and some times every year the governments bringsthe Bill of the Budget to the Knesset and after a discussion it is approved by the Knesset. Not everybody knows that after the approval of the budget many chances are put in it.
In my opinion at least once a week we can see on the Finance Committee’s agenda changes in the budget of 2012
In the discussions I saw, no material was submitted to the MKs, there was no explanation why one paragraph was not used and in the other there was a deficit. The transfers are simply approved. (Last year I did not come to these discussions). The protest of MKs Oron and Rivlin was clear, but in fact I did not hear of a transfer that was not approved.
One thing should be understood, after the approval of the budget by the Knesset, every Shekel that is moved from one paragraph to another has to have the Finance Committee’s approval. Ministers cannot decide on their own to transfer money in their office without the approval of the committee (and of the Finance office).
I once heard a lecture about budget transfers, which showed that year after year the Finance office puts money in a special budget section and during the year it comes to the committee which transfers the money to its desire.
We came to a situation where the state budget that is supposed to be transparent and clear is not understood and known out of the Finance office. There is a new web site :citizens open the Finance Committee, a development of a public knowledge workshop.
Now we can be activists from home. On the site there are all the budges’ transfers, now we need many citizens. In order to understand the State budget we need to be curious and to read it. We can do it. I do it for years, since I work for “Rabbis for Human Rights and I am not a lawyer or an economist. Every year I read the Arrangements Law and some parts of the budget. At the beginning it was difficult, but today it is clear and I can turn this knowledge to civil power.
So, try yourself, share it with your friend on facebook and e-mail – and let’s turn the budget to be accessible to all of us. After we will understand it – we will be able to change it.