Budget Math Spurs Fight in Israel’s Finance Ministry

(Bloomberg) -- The accounting that led Israel’s 2018 deficit to end the year exactly on target -- after it appeared headed for an overshoot -- is causing a fight within the Finance Ministry.

Its budget division is sowing rumors that the accountant general’s office engaged in slippery math to benefit Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on the campaign trail, according to Haaretz. The report said the budget division is trying to suggest that spending was pushed back to 2019 from 2018.

In response, the accountant general’s office now claims the budget division engaged in trickery in the other direction, by pushing 2019 spending into 2018 -- increasing last year’s deficit.

Israel’s 2018 deficit-to-gross domestic product ratio ended the year at 2.9 percent, after earlier analyses projected it to surpass the goal. The Ministry of Finance forecasts this year’s deficit will widen to 3.5 percent of GDP.

The budget division prepares spending plans, while the accountant general’s office executes the budget and manages assets.

The Ministry of Finance declined a request for comment.

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