Thursday, February 20, 2014

BEDOUIN MYTH #5 – GOVERNMENT BUDGETS DISCRIMINATE?


BEDOUIN MYTH #5 – GOVERNMENT BUDGETS DISCRIMINATE?


WRITTEN BY REGAVIM 

“The Bedouin sector is the poorest among Israeli society; Bedouin local authorities are ranked at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder in Israel.” For years we have heard complaints from the Bedouin and leftist organizations about discrimination and bias on the part of the state. Take for example the claim of Professor Ismail Abu Sa’ad from the Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva:
 “Statistics about the situation of Bedouin towns in the Negev teach us of the abject failure of the urbanization policy assimilated into their framework. The sources responsible for this failure include a shortage of land and accompanying services, budget crises in local authorities … The municipal budgets come from two sources: budgetary transfers from the government and independent income from local taxes. In addition to this, eligible municipalities are sometimes given grants for exceptional development projects. The offices of the government systematically discriminate against Bedouin municipalities. Formulas for consideration for Bedouin towns are biased and grants for development given to them are meager in comparison with their urgent needs and what is given to Jewish settlements.”
A table of statistics published by the Central Statistics Bureau[1] regarding data about local councils in 2011 compares the budgets of majority Jewish authorities to those of the Bedouin authorities chosen at random. The majority Jewish authorities that were chosen are also recognized as being ranked low on the socioeconomic ladder and must deal with high unemployment rates. On the majority Jewish side data was gathered from Yeruham, Sderot, Ofakim, Arad, Netivot, Dimona, and Kiryat Gat. On the Bedouin side data was gathered from Segev Shalom, Abu Basma, Arara, Tel Sheva, Hura, Ksifa, and Rahat.
A comparison of data from 2011 displays the exact opposite: governmental participation in the budgets of Bedouin authorities is almost twice as much as its participation in budgets of majority Jewish authorities.
Government Participation in Local Authority Councils
1. The annual percentage of governmental participation in budgets for majority Jewish authorities (including “exceptional budgets”) stands at an average of 51.6%. For Bedouin authorities, the annual governmental participation (including “exceptional budgets”) is an average of 78.9%. The town of Abu Basma stands out with a striking 98% (!). The budget of the authority comes from governmental aid, with only 1.8 percent from independent income.
 Percentage of Property Tax Income from General Budget
2.  Percentage of Property Tax Income from General Budget: For majority Jewish authorities, the percentage of independent income from property tax payments in the annual budget stands at an average of 21.3%. On the other side, the percentage of property tax in the annual budget for Bedouin authorities stands at only 3.7%. It is noteworthy that for the Council of Arara, the percentage of property tax collection rose 142% from 2010 to 2011. On opposition to this, during the same period property tax collection for Abu Basma fell by 87%. 
Governmental Budgets per Person
Dividing the average governmental participation in budgets for majority Jewish authorities mentioned (693,595,000 NIS) by the total number of residents (185,400) leaves 3,741 NIS per person. Dividing the average governmental participation from the budgets of Bedouin authorities (599,869,000 NIS) by the number of residents in all of the authorities mentioned (140,200) leaves 4,278 NIS per person. If so, the Bedouin authorities enjoy a governmental investment per person that is 537 NIS higher than the governmental participation per person in the Jewish authorities. 
  1. Property Tax Payments to Local Authorities.
Residents of majority Jewish authorities numbering at 185,400 people made property tax payments in 2011 of an amount of 119,107,000 NIS for 81,051 square meters. The amount of total income from property taxes in these authorities stands at 325,387,000 NIS. The residents of Bedouin authorities, numbering at 140,200 people, paid in that year 20,749,000 NIS for only 19,885 square meters. The amount of income from property taxes in these authorities stands at 27,232,000 NIS. This data teaches on the one hand about the unusually low amount of property tax payments in the Bedouin sector (both from housing and industry), together with a general dysfunction in the collection system of the Bedouin. 
The full findings of the report conducted by Regavim[1] conclusively refute the claims of discrimination in budgets. It turns out that that percentage of governmental participation in the general budget for these authorities is 36% higher than the governmental participation in majority Jewish authorities. If you also figure in the amount of governmental aid per person, there is a difference of more than 500 NIS in favor of the residents of Bedouin authorities.
The discrimination actually favoring the Bedouin continues despite the unusually low amount of property tax payments among the Bedouin sector, where the amount rests at an average of 3.7% of the total budgets for these authorities. In addition, this data points to a low amount of property tax collection areas in the Bedouin sector.
Conclusion: The source of poverty and backwardness among the Bedouin authorities is largely due to the fact that residents do not pay taxes as required by law and live off the public purse. The key to improving quality of life in the Bedouin communities lies in the application of law and participation by residents in property tax payments – as is usual in any other authority in the country.

[1] “Discrimination or Lack of Inspection?” A report comparing the Jewish and Bedouin budgets in the Negev. July, 2013
[1] http://www.cbs.gov.il/reader/?MIval=cw_usr_view_SHTML&ID=357
http://regavim.org.il/en/myth-5-government-budgets-discriminate/