“Israeli citizens need to have more money in their pockets, and put out less money for services they receive from the government,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said today at a meeting of the full cabinet held to review the budget he submitted together with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.
“This is the essence of the budget we have submitted today to the government,” Netanyahu said.
“This budget is balanced, responsible and aimed at continuing the economic growth in the State of Israel. We are working so that every family in Israel will save hundreds of shekels every month. We are not only talking about it – we are doing it,” he emphasized.
“The budget includes reforms that reduce the expense of daily living for Israeli citizens,” he went on to explain. “I want every Israeli citizen to put out less money for services that he receives from the state, or that the state controls on their behalf.
“For instance, in the food sector, there is not enough competition and therefore the prices here are very high. Therefore, we are going to make some changes here the likes of which have not been seen in years.
“I have been working on them for years, and I am glad to have the cooperation of the Economy Minister and the Finance Minister in carrying out these very important, far-reaching changes — to lower the price of food, transportation, and health [care],” he said.
No Increase in Taxes
We are interested in continued economic growth. This is what makes the Israeli economy unique, at least the economies that I have overseen; this is also what guides us today. We must continue growth. Therefore, the level of taxation will remain low, or at least it will not increase, because we know that the money goes to the people, into their pockets and they will make much better use of it than government officials. Thus I have a very clear view, different than that of many, but it is a correct view and it advances economic growth in the State of Israel – a budget for growth.
Increasing Housing Units
“A very great effort that has been made in this budget and in the Arrangements Law is the effort to increase the supply of apartments. The Finance Minister has been leading this, with my complete backing, and the Cabinet will give its complete backing to this important endeavor because this, in the end, can change the trend in housing prices.
‘Security Ensures We Will Have Other Needs’
“I would like to say something about security. This budget must, in the end, strike a balance between the country’s security needs and all of its other needs. I put it this way – all of the country’s other needs versus security – because security ensures that we will have other needs. Without security there is nothing. We know that this is always a hard balance. This is an important dilemma. It has become more important due to the many great and changing security challenges facing the State of Israel; naturally, this also requires an appropriate security budget.
“I received two proposals on how to deal with the size and composition of the budget. In recent weeks we have been studying these two proposals. Of course, we will learn lessons from both. We will also combine them and then link between them regarding the changes that we want to make in the security budget, including its increase beyond what is being proposed here. I say in advance. I want all ministers to be familiar with the process that we are going to undertake. We need to provide security alongside meeting the other needs in the State of Israel.
Targeting Growth of 4 Percent
“What we will do here today is a continuation of the balanced and successful policy that we have led in recent years. The State of Israel has not fallen into the holes that other economies have fallen into, including Western economies both nearby and far away; we have continued growth. Our obligation is to try and bring about growth of approximately four percent. When growth is around four percent and not 3.5 percent, we will be on a very, very healthy track for the State of Israel.
“This will also be done by other means – opening major markets in Asia, Latin America and other places; and moving forward with new products, especially cyber – but it will also be done by the things that we will decide on today. Our goal is to reach four percent growth, if not this year then certainly next year. Less than this will not suffice and we need to do our utmost in order to achieve this with low taxation. This is the essence of what we want to do with this budget.”
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon appeared to be in full agreement with the prime minister. Smiling, he presented his view of the budget, which he confirmed was “responsible, and balanced.”
Kahlon added, The [Finance Ministry] Budget Division has been working with the ministries for months in order to reach agreement.
Increase in Civil Expenditure
“There is a very significant increase here in civil expenditures. There is very nice expansion here in education from 14-16, approximately NIS 4 billion. There is very nice expansion here in health. There is expansion here in public security. There is major, good and necessary expansion on all other civil matters. As the Prime Minister said, there are benefits that make things easier for people vis-à-vis the cost of living, housing supply, growth, investments, the periphery; we are dealing with all these areas, including infrastructures and bringing the periphery closer to the center, which will generate significant growth.
Reforms ‘Will Require Courage’
“There are major reforms here the likes of which have not been seen for years, reforms that need a lot of courage and your support, Mr. Prime Minister and my fellow ministers, in order to implement them. It is not for nothing that they have not been done for very many years. We have very significant reforms in the financial market that people did not want to deal with – but we are dealing with it. The financial market is a monopolistic market that requires reforms and changes. There has been major pressure on us not to enact them, but we will enact them and in many other areas as well – the cost of living, food; we mean to do it.
“A word about security. Security is dear to us. The IDF is dear to us. We will help and support lest there be the impression – Heaven forbid! – that security is a side issue. Security is in the center. There must be balances between society’s needs and those of security and I am certain that together with the Defense Minister and the Prime Minister, and the other ministers, we will reach a solution. There must not be the impression – Heaven forbid! – that security is a side issue; security is in the center.”
Hana Levi Julian