Prime Minister Netanyahu announced before pesach that he would lower the gas taxes by 15 agurot. However, he waited until no one was paying attention – due to the media focus on the Machpela House incident with Defense Minister Barak – to announce that 2% of government jobs would be cut in order to fund the tax reduction. Netanyahu explained that lowering taxes means shrinking the government, and, this time, cutting taxes means cutting public sector jobs. He emphasized that no one needs to be fired if enough workers embrace early retirement or quit, but conceded that this means the ministries will not be hiring for a long time.
Among those affected are the Justice Ministry, which will lose 134 jobs, Homeland Security Ministry (77), Health Ministry (48), Defense Ministry (45), Education Ministry (43), Industry and Trade Ministry (37), Prime Minister’s Office (35), Welfare Ministry (19), State Comptroller (12), and the President’s Office, which will need to lay off one worker.
There will be many exemptions. Minority workers will keep their jobs, since the government must reach its target of a 10% employment rate of affirmative action groups in the public sector by the end of 2012. In addition, pressure from various groups has succeeded in exempting soldiers, policemen, doctors and nurses in hospitals, and teachers from the cuts.
Netanyahu is known to be a master spin-doctor, and the way he managed to cut public sector jobs by 2% under everyone’s noses will surely be added to his list of spin-doctor achievements.