Monday, 16/12/2019 | 9:52 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

Obama: My duty is to America, with or without Israel ‘friction’ (The Times of Israel)

PM chastises ministers as cabinet budget battle rages

Facing demands from ultra-Orthodox parties, labor groups, various ministries and the army for higher budgets in the 2015-16 state budget now being negotiated in the cabinet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday delivers a biting speech before cabinet ministers on the importance of fiscal “responsibility” and economic growth.

“The budget we’re bringing today to the government…is balanced and responsible. This is a budget intended first of all to sustain the economy’s growth.”

At Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, convened to discuss the Treasury’s proposed 2015-16 budget, ministers focus on the gap between the army’s asked-for annual budget, which was over NIS 60 billion, and the Treasury’s proposal for a budget closer to NIS 53 billion.

The cabinet also debates the disagreement between Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Economy Minister Aryeh Deri, whose Shas party ran on an election promise of rescinding the 18% value added tax on some basic grocery goods. The Treasury opposes the tax cut on the grounds that it cuts the tax for all income brackets, disproportionately favoring the wealthy over the poor.

In his comments at the meeting, Netanyahu criticizes “the whole discussion that talks about the division of the pie without talking about growing the pie…. Dividing up the pie is important, but it’s much less important than growing the pie.”

That means, according to the prime minister, “that the level of taxation will remain low, or at least won’t grow, because we know that money that reaches the citizens, their pockets, they will use it far better than if it stayed in the hands of bureaucrats.”

He calls for a target of 4% annual growth, which he said would come from reforms favoring competition in various industries, increased trade with developing economies like China, and an investment in cutting edge technological fields.

The budget and the accompanying Arrangements Bill include reforms that would increase competition in the food, transportation and health industries, and will allow “every family to save as a result of these changes hundreds of shekels each month,” the prime minister says.