Israel Economy Gets Boost: Central Bank Backs War Budget Amid Ongoing Conflict

Israel's Central Bank Governor Supports Budget to Stabilize Economy Amidst Wartime Challenges

Jan 18, 2024 - 01:45
Jan 18, 2024 - 01:45
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Israel Economy Gets Boost: Central Bank Backs War Budget Amid Ongoing Conflict
Israel Economy Gets Boost: Central Bank Backs War Budget Amid Ongoing Conflict

The governor of Israel's central bank, Amir Yaron, has formally expressed his support for a recently sanctioned budget by the cabinet. Yaron is confident that this budget will facilitate the necessary fiscal adjustments to stabilize the nation's debt, even amidst the substantial costs incurred during the ongoing war.

This expression of support comes subsequent to the cabinet's approval of the budget under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a process that experienced delays due to political discord. Yaron underscored the significance of maintaining Israel's public debt at approximately 66% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the forthcoming years, as opposed to the 62% recorded in 2023, asserting that such measures convey a pivotal message to the financial markets.

Addressing the audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Yaron articulated, “Steps taken to stabilize Israel’s future debt are a very important statement to the markets.”

The revised state budget for the year 2024, inclusive of measures such as tax increments and spending reductions (including a 5% reduction in ministry budgets), aims to tackle the escalated expenditures resulting from the prolonged conflict with Hamas, which has now surpassed the 100-day mark.

Yaron approximated that the ongoing war would impose a cost of around 10% on Israel's estimated GDP of $530 billion for the current year, resulting in a 2% decline in the nation's revenue. In order to mitigate potential economic risks, the central bank had previously reduced interest rates by 25 basis points to 4.5% following a period of market volatility triggered by the war.

While recognizing the imperative need for fiscal measures, the Bank of Israel has issued cautions that the government's response may lead to consequences such as heightened bond yields, currency devaluation, and adverse impacts on future economic growth. Yaron underscored the importance of adopting a cautious and moderate approach to future rate decisions, considering factors such as economic activity, uncertainties associated with the war, and trends in inflation.

The approved fiscal program, encompassing a combination of tax adjustments and spending cuts, reflects the government's concerted effort to navigate the economic challenges posed by the ongoing conflict while concurrently striving to uphold financial stability.

Also Read: Bank of Israel Cuts Rates to Boost Economy

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