Finance Minister Avraham Shohat presented the Knesset on Wednesday with a new state budget that has been criticized even within the government for failing to address adequately the record unemployment rate of 11.2 percent.
At least a dozen Knesset members in the minister’s own Labor Party threaten to vote against the $40 billion budget unless it allocates funds to create jobs immediately for half the country’s 200,000 jobless.
But Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who himself has exerted heavy pressure on the Treasury to accelerate job creation, reminded Labor members of Knesset that voting against the budget amounted to a vote of no confidence in the coalition.
“You will find many partners to such a move” to bring down the government, Rabin said. “So draw the consequences.”
The budget, which is 6 percent under last year’s, is based on “changing (national) priorities, promoting growth and a slight drop in unemployment,” Shohat said.
He said a drastic cut in the number of jobless is not possible in the short term, but a growing economy would show positive results “possibly by the end of next year.”
At the Treasury, budget department head David Brodet predicted that unemployment would drop to 9 percent, “and possibly less,” by 1995.
Spokesmen for the opposition Likud said the budget failed to address the real problems of the economy. Likud Knesset member Dan Tichon suggested parliamentary adoption of a one-month budget, pending an overhaul of the full proposal by the finance committee.
The new budget is facing yet another obstacle from representatives of the Arab sector.
The eight Arab Knesset members, who support the government either tacitly or as members of the coalition, threaten to vote against the budget unless it allocates a minimum of $39 million for school buildings, roads and sewage systems in Arab towns and villages.
The debate on the budget is scheduled to begin Tuesday.