JERUSALEM (Sep. 2)
August was a banner month for immigration to Israel, after a less-than-impressive July.
In all, 8,047 people made aliyah, including 6,113 from the republics that formerly constituted the Soviet Union. By contrast, only 3,939 immigrants arrived from the ex-Soviet republics in July.
Immigration from the republics to the United States was also up in August, with 3,364 newcomers arriving under the U.S. government’s refugee program, according to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in New York.
A total of 40,994 Jews from the former Soviet Union have arrived in Israel so far this calendar year, and another 23,616 have arrived in the United States, according to the Soviet Jewry Research Bureau of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.
The Israel numbers are ahead of where they were at this time last year, but still disappointing compared to the huge influx of immigrants who arrived here in 1990 and 1991.
Some have charged that more immigrants would come if the government spent more money on job creation and immigrant absorption.
The issue came up during recent deliberations over the 115 billion shekel ($40 billion) state budget for 1994, which was approved by the Cabinet last Sunday.
Immigrant Absorption Minister Yair Tsaban, who was one of four Cabinet ministers to vote against the budget, said it would not adequately address the needs of new immigrants.
BUDGET SAID TO NEGLECT POOR, OLD AND JOBLESS
Several other ministers bitterly argued that the budget failed to reflect the heightened priority assigned to immigration by the Labor government when it was elected last year.
They also claimed it fell far short of addressing the needs of the poor, the elderly and the unemployed.
But Finance Minister Avraham Shohat defended the budget plan. He said it increased social spending by 27 percent over such spending in 1993.
Shohat projects the budget will create 75,000 new jobs, that unemployment will fall to 9.6 percent and inflation will drop to 8 percent, conditions ripe for the successful absorption of immigrants.
Treasury officials also point to a 1.25 billion shekel ($450 million) increase in funds allocated to the various ministries dealing with absorption matters, such as housing, education and employment.
Tsaban’s ministry itself saw its budget increase by 11 percent or 124 million shekels ($45 million).
He had sought a 154 million shekel ($55 million) increase and vowed to continue to fight for it as the budget makes its way to the Knesset.
The Cabinet’s budget plan also calls for a cut of 400 million shekels ($145 million) in individual income taxes, and the eli7mination of the 5 percent income tax for absorption by the end of the year.
The plan sets the deficit at 3 percent of the gross domestic product.