High public budgets for ultra-Orthodox sector damages economy: Israeli economists

Jerusalem, May 22 (IANS) An open letter, signed by 286 senior Israeli economists, warned of the consequences of the high funds recently approved by the government for the Jewish ultra-Orthodox sector, especially for its education system.

These state budget funds are included in the coalition agreements following demands by the ultra-Orthodox parties and are scheduled to be approved by the Israeli parliament in the coming days, Xinhua news agency reported.

The economists, including former finance ministry and central bank seniors, warned on Sunday that the high sums are expected to increase poverty and cause significant long-term damage to Israel’s economy, “turning Israel from a progressive and prosperous country to a backward one.”

They pointed out the outstanding fund allocations to unsupervised ultra-Orthodox educational institutions, most of them lacking full core studies.

“This measure will deny children in ultra-Orthodox education the opportunity to acquire basic skills essential for their future integration into the labor market,” the experts wrote.

The letter also warned against the budgeting of food stamps to be distributed in the ultra-Orthodox sector without any employment conditions, which would reduce the incentive for ultra-Orthodox adults to integrate into the labor market.

It noted that the economic-social cost will be expressed by the loss of product in the Israeli economy, alongside the difficulty in providing the residents with health, education, transportation, and welfare services.

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