Israeli government budget supervisor resigns

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A senior Israeli Finance Ministry official resigned on Sunday and said the government was grossly mishandling the fallout from the coronavirus crisis by making “short-sighted” decisions and ignoring economic norms.

Shaul Meridor, who heads the state budget division, was the third top ministry official to decide to step down since the coronavirus outbreak, which has dragged Israel into a recession. The ministry’s director-general and the accountant general have also said they would be resigning.

“The decision making processes these days are influenced by narrow, non-essential interests along with silencing the professional ranks, blatant disregard for administrative work, shooting from the hip, (and) a trampling of budgetary tools and rules,” Meridor wrote in a letter seen by Reuters.

Finance Minister Israel Katz said Meridor had been opposing government decisions for “narrow, political” reasons and that his resigning was the right move.

The government has yet to pass a 2020 state budget and its feuding leaders last week avoided plunging the country into its fourth election in less than two years by voting to postpone a deadline for passage of a national budget.

Israel’s economy is forecast to shrink some 4.5% in 2020, while the jobless rate is at 12.3% due to a March-April lockdown.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Tova Cohen