It is very costly: The budget of Central Election Committee amounts to NIS 538 million


by Ifi Reporter Category:Politics Oct 23, 2022

Five election campaigns in less than four years cost us a lot of money, when all the expenses and damages to the economy in one election campaign are estimated at three billion shekels, including the cost of the Sabbath day and the damage to economic growth. Today (Sunday) the Finance Committee approved the budget proposal of the Central Election Committee for the elections to the 25th Knesset, which this time will amount to approximately NIS 538 million.
Out of that 538 million shekels, about 23 million shekels were approved for "corona expenses" and about 153 million shekels for election day workers' wages. The cost of the elections for each of the voters will therefore be approximately NIS 79. For comparison, the budget proposal for the elections to the 24th Knesset was about 675 million shekels, with the main reason being the huge budget of about 231 million shekels required to allow corona patients to vote and to prevent infection from voters who were not sick as well.
The budget does not include the election committee's current budget for 2022, amounting to NIS 45 million, which was approved in November 2021 and exists every year so that the committee will operate throughout the year and be prepared in time in case new Knesset elections are announced. It should be noted that the costs increased by tens of millions of shekels in the last two systems with the significant change that was introduced to the procedure - the activation of thousands of election inspectors with cameras that record the votes in the polling stations and deal with suspicions of fraud during the voting.
The director general of the election committee, Orli Ades, apologized for submitting the budget so close to the elections, and stated that this was due to the tight schedule the committee was facing.
The rising prices in the economy also reached the cost of the elections
To the question of the chairman of the committee, MK Alex Kushnir, about the gap between the budgets for the elections to the 24th Knesset and the elections to the 25th Knesset, minus the corona supplements and the current budget of the committee that was included in the previous approved budget, Adas pointed to the increase in rental costs, to an increase in guarding and security expenses, Both in terms of hours and in terms of the rate, as well as about 16 million shekels of reserve money, which in the elections to the 24th Knesset were not approved by the finance committee, in view of a significant increase in the committee's budget.
It was also noted that there was an increase in the salary of the secretaries of the polling stations in view of the demands of the position, as well as an update of the salary of all employees in accordance with the update of the indicators in the economy. It should be noted that the number of voters also increased by tens of thousands between the election campaigns, which makes them more expensive.
Yedidia Greenwald, a representative of the Ministry of Finance noted on the other hand that "the budget is presented 9 days before election day, this makes it quite difficult to make substantial changes in the budget that the committee requested".
He also added that "we are not the professionals who discuss or approve the details of the budget. The committee has exclusive authority for this, but we see a very significant increase in the committee's budget. If I go to the budget for the 21st Knesset, the budget was NIS 281 million, an increase of 82% , if I go to the elections for the previous Knesset, I see an increase of NIS 70 million."
Greenwald referred to the committee's request for the reserve section, noting that "usually this budget comes after the budget framework is determined, from the established budget. The budget is not approved together with the reserve. 9 days before the elections, we see no need to establish a reserve beyond what the committee determined would be its need." .
The director general of the election committee rejected the words of the finance representative: "Every year your representative would sit with us on a 3 percent reserve next to the budget. Every year we return surpluses. We returned NIS 110 million for the previous elections, but we are asking for the reserve because I don't know what will happen. There have been cases of military operations at the same time as the elections, a significant cyber event could, God forbid, require a budget that was not budgeted for. As long as it's not used, that money comes back. That's why I'm asking for your approval, we've been careful with our finances."



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