Gas prices drop 23 agorot as gov't cancels excise

The measure is the first of a number of steps aimed at easing the burden of soaring commodity prices.

By SHARON WROBEL
February 13, 2011 22:44
2 minute read.
Gasoline prices [illustrative photo]

Gasoline prices gas tax 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The price of filling your gas tank fell by NIS 0.23 per liter at midnight on Sunday, following a decision by the Finance Ministry to cancel an increase in the gasoline excise.

A liter of 95 octane gas in the selfservice lane now costs NIS 7.02. The fee for full service remains unchanged at NIS 0.13. The National Infrastructures Ministry recommends that consumers compare prices at various gas stations.

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The announcement was made after the Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Sunday signed a directive reducing the gasoline excise by NIS 0.20 per liter, following a decision to cancel an increase that went into effect on January 1. As a result, the government’s revenues will fall by NIS 760 million a year. The measure is the first of a number of steps the government announced on Thursday night aimed at easing the burden of soaring commodity prices.

“The government is not reducing but only canceling an increase, and even that is only a drop in the ocean,” the Union of Local Authorities said in response.

Thursday’s announcement followed weeks of intense public pressure and threats by the Histadrut labor federation to call a general strike.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the government will raise the minimum wage and roll back recent increases in water, public transportation and gasoline prices. As part of the package, the government will cut fares for public transportation, including buses and trains, by about 10 percent, mainly for monthly fares, and thus benefiting regular users and people living in the periphery.

Water prices for average usage, which have risen more than 30% over the past year, will be lowered. The government will increase the usage amount priced at the low tariff, and increase the rate charged for high usage.

Despite great opposition from the Finance Ministry, Netanyahu announced that the government would raise the minimum wage by a monthly NIS 450, to NIS 4,300 from the current NIS 3,850. The increase will be implemented in two stages.

Separately, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini on Sunday called upon the prime minister to enter into negotiations with the union in an effort to avert a strike in the public and private sectors. Before the government’s announcement on Thursday evening, the labor union declared a wage dispute, allowing the union to launch a general strike in two weeks, in protest of the government’s up-to-then refusal to raise the minimum wage and cancel recent tax hikes and increases in the price of water and bread.

Eini said that although the announced measures were pointing in the right direction, more clarification and discussion were needed to examine the effectiveness and implementation of the planned steps, in particular their impact on the poor.

Unless the government enters into talks to clarify last week’s announcement and satisfies the Histadrut, the union intends to launch a general strike.

The Union of Local Authorities, which has joined the Histadrut’s work dispute, said that there is great concern that most people will not benefit from the price reductions set by the cabinet, and therefore the prime minister needs to provide clear answers to the issues affecting the public.


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