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Gaza war costing a bomb; Israel to amend its budget

Jerusalem: Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Wednesday the 2023-2024 nationalbudgetwas “no longer relevant” given theGazawarand would beamended, and sounded unfazed by S&P Global’s downgrade ofIsrael’s outlookto”negative” from “stable”.

While putting thedirectcostof thewarataround1billion shekels ($246million) a daytoIsrael, Smotrich said in an Army Radio broadcast that he did not yet have an assessment of the indirectcostson an economy partly paralysed by the mass mobilisation of military reservists and extensive Palestinian rocket salvoes.

Smotrich described the S&P downward revision from “stable” published on Tuesday as “alarmist” and said he did not anticipate major Israeli deficits despite the crisis.

He praised Bank ofIsraelGovernor Amir Yaron, who was duetohave stepped down but extended his tenure duetothe crisis, for “functioning above and beyond”. But Smotrich would not be drawn on whether Yaron should be formally kept in office.

“We don’t have timetobreathe, so we’re not dealing with this (question) now,” he said.

(Published 25 October 2023, 08:22 IST)

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