Israel: Budget cuts turn Cabinet’s meeting into a battle ground over Eurovision hosting cost
Although Israel is moving strongly on with the preparations for the forthcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv next May, still the cost of hosting it brings fierce reactions, this time within the goverment.
Widespread budget cuts affecting all ministries were approved by the government on Sunday despite fierce objection by many of the ministers. The Treasury sought to cut NIS 22 billion (5.2 billion euros) from government ministries over the next 20 years (until 2038) which was would be equal with a 1,3% cut for each Ministry. Most of the money will fund additional pay for police officers and prison guards, but some of it will also go toward funding aid for the Israeli communities on the Gaza border, hiring additional construction inspectors, and hosting the Eurovision Song Content.
Thing went wild during the discussion within the cabinet, whether the national broadcaster should cover the cost of hosting Eurovision entirely by its own financial means and its already wide existing budget or receive further financial support from the Goverment for it.
Most of the ministers’ objections were over the funding of the Eurovision Song Contest, which is estimated to cost NIS 150 million (35 million euros). During the debate PMO bureau chief Yoav Horowitz called Finance Ministry director-general Shai Babad “a charlatan, a lying politician who is swindling us.” As things started deteriorating the session went on a break for an hour in order the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to hold consultations with senior Treasury officials.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri stated:
I, along with Ministers Miri Regev, Uri Ariel and other ministers, opposed to giving additional budgets to the IPBC to produce the Eurovision. I opposed it because of the expected mass desecration of the Shabbat, while other ministers opposed it because they believe the IPBC needs to fund the Eurovision’s production out of its large budget, without receiving additional funds.
An hour later, the meeting reconvened and the government approved a cut of 1.3 percent out of each ministry’s budget despite fierce objection by many of the ministers. The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest is scheduled to be held on 14, 16 and 18 of May at the Tel Aviv Convention Centre in Tel Aviv, Israel.