Israeli deputy spending chief resigns ahead of 2024 budget revision

The official’s resignation comes just days ahead of the scheduled presentation of the 2024 revised budget to the Knesset.

  • People wave Israeli flags during a protest against humanitarian aid entering Gaza and against the hostages exchange deal with Hamas, in occupied al-Quds, occupied Palestine, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 (AP)

Itai Temkin, the deputy budget commissioner of the Israeli Finance Ministry, has announced his resignation from his position, The Times of Israel reported. This development comes just days ahead of the scheduled presentation of the revised budget for 2024 to the Knesset, which incorporates critical adjustments to allocate funds to sustain the ongoing genocidal aggression against Gaza.  

In his role as the deputy head of the budget division for microfinance and budgetary matters, Temkin played a pivotal role in formulating plans for spending changes to suit the aggression waged by the IOF against Gaza. His resignation introduces a notable change in leadership at a critical juncture for financial decision-making in the occupation’s regime.

Read more: Israeli war budget falls $20bln short, spurs closure of 10 ministries

Temkin’s responsibilities extended beyond the war-related budget adjustments. At the Ministry, he also oversaw the budget department’s interactions with global credit rating agencies.

The resignation of Itai Temkin adds an element of uncertainty to the already exacerbated conflict of the Israeli political establishment and raises questions about the sustainability of financial strategies amid ongoing geopolitical challenges. As the revised budget for 2024 awaits Knesset’s approval, the occupation’s Finance Ministry will need to navigate these changes to ensure effective fiscal management during a critical period.

Israeli fiscal deficit surges to 4.2% of GDP amid heightened war costs 

Earlier this month, the Israeli Ministry of Finance Accountant General revealed that “Israel’s” fiscal deficit expanded to 4.2% of the GDP by December 2023, marking a substantial increase from the 2% deficit recorded at the end of September.

This surge translates to a significant gap of NIS 77.5 billion ($20,7 billion) between government revenues and expenditures, primarily attributed to heightened spending related to the costs of war.

By the end of November 2023, the deficit stood at 3.4%, amounting to NIS 62.3 billion ($16,6 billion). This increase in the deficit is also due to the cost of war.

A stark contrast emerges when compared to late 2022, where, just days after the current administration assumed office, “Israel” enjoyed a modest fiscal surplus of NIS 10 billion. Within a span of one year, this surplus transformed into a deficit, surging by NIS 10 billion.

The substantial rise in the deficit can be traced back to a dual impact—decreasing revenue and escalating government spending.

Read more: Killing Palestinians costs ‘Israel’ $220Mln per day: WashPo

“State revenues” experienced a notable decline of NIS 30 billion in the past year, with NIS 24 billion less in tax revenue and an additional NIS 6 billion less in revenue from “National Insurance”.

Tax revenues witnessed an 8% decrease, plummeting from NIS 428.9 billion in 2022 to NIS 404.4 billion. The decline in tax collection was initiated in mid-2022, coinciding with an increase in interest rates, and intensified following the onset of the war, as underscored by the Accountant General.

Notably, real estate taxes, encompassing purchase tax and betterment tax, saw a substantial 45% decrease in 2023, totaling NIS 14.4 billion compared to NIS 25.4 billion in 2022.

The latest figures for December reveal that the government’s current expenditure reached NIS 33 billion. This sum includes an additional NIS 17 billion earmarked for war-related expenses and an extra NIS 5.7 billion allocated for property tax to address damages incurred during the ongoing war.

Read more: War on Lebanon can be ‘lethal’ to Israeli economy: Reports

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