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July 31, 2016 / 25 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘finance’

Knesset Committee Slams Finance Minister on Fear of Fighting Monopolies

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

“Five years have passed, and prices have not gone down, and in certain cases they have gone up,” members of the Knesset Finance Committee told government representatives during Monday’s meeting marking five years since the summer of 2011 popular social protest in Israel.

The committee members slammed Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon for “being afraid to fight the monopolies,” but members of Kahlon’s Kulanu party said in response, “We are advancing many reforms, and we can already see the results on the ground.”

Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said that “with all due respect to the Finance Ministry and talks of reform, in practice the prices have not gone down.”

MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) said, “Five years after the ‘cottage cheese’ protest, not only have the prices not gone down, in real terms they have increased, because the prices of commodities around the world have dropped 30-50%, and this is not being reflected in the Israeli market. Prices are 20% higher, on average, than in Europe. The prices of inputs have also decreased, as has the price of gas and energy, but this has not had any effect. What happened is that the monopolies and chain stores have gained huge profits at the consumers’ expense.”

MK Manuel Trajtenberg (Zionist Camp) explained that “the expense basket of a young family has three main components: housing, education and food. In housing the prices have only gone up; in education there has been some progress regarding ages 3-4, but not a week goes by that we are not asked to answer questions regarding family expenses related to education. An average family with three children spends some $1,300 a month on education, day care, afternoon child care, camps, and more. As far as food is concerned, some positive steps have been taken, but that nut has not been cracked and, ultimately, too much power has been left in the hands of a small number of companies.”

MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) charged that the Trajtenberg Committee, which examined and proposed solutions to Israel’s socioeconomic problems, was established only to “ease tensions” and “take the wind out of the social protest’s sails.” In practice, he said, “nothing has been done.” Vaknin called to restore price controls, saying “in the absence of competition, this is the solution.”

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) said the problem is “greed.” The chain store owners and the major wholesalers “earn tens of millions on the public’s back,” he stated. “And meanwhile, here in the Knesset, people are strong at talking. The finance minister can make bold decisions and change the market without fearing his friends the tycoons. Here in this committee we have the power to advance a plan to dissolve the monopolies. We will enact a law to that effect.”

MK Roy Folkman of Kulanu said, “We have waged an all-out war on the monopolies. In Israel there is a very high concentration of market controls, and a finance minister who does not fear them has now arrived. We launched reforms in the importing of fresh meat and the prices have dropped. With fish as well, we created parallel importing. For years no one has dared to deal with the monopolies, which maintain a stronghold on Israeli politics, and we have started doing so. A change can already be seen in toiletries, food items, children’s toys and other items. The fight takes courage and ability. Increasing competition is the only way. Price control does not work; [corporations] would only raise the prices of other items. The business sector is more sophisticated than the regulator.”

MK Rachel Azaria, also from Kulanu, said “We are making great efforts, but every issue that reaches the Knesset gets stuck there. Every reform encounters objections, and it is nearly impossible to pass anything, including the fight against black market capital. I belong to the finance minister’s faction and it is my job to pass things, but nothing can be advanced; there are always dramas here; in some cases it’s the kibbutzim, in others kashrut – everybody has an interest. We have to be brave and deal with the basic problems: monopolies, quotas and interested bodies that prevent change. In the Arrangements Law we will introduce important reforms, and then we will see if all those who are yelling here will support them. We are the cause of the high prices. We have an opportunity to lower the cost of living, and I hope everyone here will support [the measures].”

JNi.Media

Government Approves $18.6 Million Transfer to Settlements

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

The government on Sunday approved a budget increase of $18.62 million to the settlements in Judea and Samaria in response to the new security situation. This amount will be added to the initial budget for the settlements of $88 million established in the coalition agreement between Habayit Hayehudi and Likud last year.

As the new decision puts it, “Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria have been experiencing unique security realities on a daily basis because of their geographic location and the quality of life in the area. Since the beginning of October 2015 there has been an escalation in the security situation in Judea and Samaria following the wave of terror attacks and additional terrorist activities. The security escalation influences a variety of areas of life, including psychological and sociological, and economic damage to businesses which require unique responses and services.”

The money will be transferred to the settlements from a variety of current budgets. The transfer will include a one-time award by the Interior Ministry to local municipal councils to the amount of $3.88 million, according to criteria that has been used in the past for security-related awards. Another $2.59 million will be paid out by the Ministry of Agriculture to a project converting structures into permanent housing units and renovating public structures in rural communities. And a total of $3.1 million will be used for the construction and operation of resilience centers, for enhanced welfare and social services, treatment of youth at risk, and support for businesses that were hurt by the security situation. The money for those programs will be taken out of the budgets of the ministries of education, finance, welfare, and health.

MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Camp) called the decision “enraging,” blaming the government for channeling money to the settlements at the expense of development towns on Israel’s geographic and social periphery. Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud) argued that the budgetary boost was essential to the communities in need and would contribute greatly to the resilience of these communities. He said, “It is our duty to care for the communities that are on the frontline of the war against terror and are courageously facing complex security and social challenges.”

JNi.Media

FM Kahlon Tussles With Netanyahu Over Casinos in Eilat

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Kulanu party chairman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon apparently is teaming up with Bayit Yehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett in a minor political brawl against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The argument is over funding, as usual – this time, a plan to open a casino in Eilat.

In the past Kahlon has sidestepped the issue altogether by saying, “Everyone knows there will not be a casino here.”

The Finance Ministry has taken steps to block gambling activities that target Israelis and others who have low incomes and difficulty walking away from their hopes for easy money.

“Last week we decided to put an end to slot machines and horse races – gambling activities that ruin families. These machines are placed in poor neighborhoods to sell them illusions and hopes while taking money out of their pockets,” Kahlon said, according to the Globes business news site.

“Sadly, this has been going on since 2003 – it has been talked about for years and we decided to take action; soon we’ll remove them, and Mifal HaPayis can scrap them as far as I’m concerned.”

Meanwhile, Netanyahu appointed Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to head a commission to look into the possibility of developing a gambling spot in the southern resort city.

But Kahlon told journalists at the start of the Kulanu faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday: “The State of Israel does not need casinos. It needs to provide education, values, and jobs – not a casino.”

Hana Levi Julian

The Aaron Katsman Show – Teaching Children About Money [audio]

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

As the culture of consumerism dominates modern culture, in this week’s show we discuss how to teach your children proper money habits.

We focus on the old school advice that Grandma used to give. Live within your means. Save for a rainy day. Work hard and you will succeed!

First aired: February 15, 2016

Israel News Talk Radio

Finance Minister Raises Number of Customs-Free Items

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has signed an order to exempt more food products and production items from customs fees upon their arrival in Israel.

In addition, existing exemptions have been extended, new exemptions have been added, and the “customs-free” imports quota has been expanded.

The moves are designed to ease future costs for Israeli business owners and increase their ability to compete in the international marketplace.

The Finance Ministry is beefing up efforts to maintain a healthy economy despite Israel’s somewhat sluggish growth rate earlier in the year.

Hana Levi Julian

Economics Committee Tussles with Finance Over Broadcast Authority

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Knesset Economics Committee Chairman MK Eitan Cabel has sent a sharply-worded ‘reminder’ to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon not to forget the Israel Broadcasting Corp. in his new 2015-2016 budget.

In the letter, signed together with committee member Prof. Yossi Yona, Cabel noted that last week’s budget approval didn’t mention any funding for the yet-to-be established new broadcasting corporation.

And the current Israel Broadcasting Authority, meanwhile, is already in liquidation.

Without any financial resources to keep the IBA going, or to launch the IBC, television screens in Israel might go dark, Cabel pointed out – a violation of the broadcast law passed last year.

The Finance Minister was enjoined by special legislation approved in Knesset last year to resolve all of its fiscal issues with the Israel Broadcast Authority.

These include the cost of its operations and the startup for the new IBC, the letter states. More to the point, however, is the lack of logic in the IBA having to request its funding each month.

Therefore, Cabel informed Kahlon that he has called an emergency meeting of the Economics Committee, to be held during the Knesset recess – and Finance Ministry officials will be required to attend, recess notwithstanding – to discuss the ministry’s breach of law.

Minister Without Portfolio Ofir Akunis, who handles communications issues, received a copy of the letter, as did Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, chair of the special committee involved in preparing the amended public broadcasting law.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel Follows US Lead on Hunting Citizens’ Foreign Assets

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Israelis who have not filled out forms for declaring their assets to the Israel Tax Authority and have unreported overseas bank accounts are being targeted, Globes reports, in ways mirroring the methods of the IRS and U.S. Treasury.

In an agreement reached between Israel’s Finance Ministry and the United States more than a year ago, the Israel Tax Authority agreed to report the accounts of U.S. citizens in Israel to the IRS. In exchange, the IRS agreed it “may” report on income in the accounts of Israelis in the United States.

The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) for “improving global tax enforcement” requires banks in dozens of foreign countries to collect and share private financial information about millions of Americans living and working outside the U.S.

Tens of thousands of Americans who came on aliyah fall into this category, and have since been warned by their banks they must fill out an annual IRS W-9 and “FBAR” (Foreign Bank Account Report.)

“The U.S. sent a delegation here, which examined our systems and information security and was very impressed,” said Israel Tax Authority head Moshe Asher in a speech this week to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP.)

Asher told participants at a business conference this week to expect more arrests of Israelis with unreported overseas assets.

According to the Tax Authority, there are Israelis who are holding an estimated NIS 50 billion in concealed capital in unreported accounts around the world. And after starting a war on illegal capital, Asher commented that the Tax Authority has already raised income tax revenue by NIS 3.5 billion over projected forecasts since the beginning of the year.

“Switzerland was once the world’s safe deposit box from which no information could be extracted,” Asher said.

But, “they have been forthcoming recently, even if in contravention of Swiss law… Inroads have been made in Swiss banking confidentiality – it’s like any other country now, subject to conventions and obligated to provide information.

“Secrecy is over: the world has become more transparent and much smaller… This is the time to come and make an arrangement for unreported capital, because the tax authorities will find it.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-follows-us-lead-on-hunting-citizens-foreign-assets/2015/06/26/

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