Gov't okays measures to lower cost of living

Cabinet approves Trajtenberg C'tee recommendations calling for more gas stations, improved public transportation.

December 18, 2011 15:45
2 minute read.
PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting

PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The cabinet unanimously approved the recommendations of the Trajtenberg Committee on Socioeconomic Change relating to competition and the cost of living on Sunday.

The approval came after the cabinet had discussed the Trajtenberg Committee's recommendations during its past two meetings.

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The sections of the report approved by the cabinet on Sunday call for a breaking of fuel monopolies in Israel by the addition of dozens of gas stations and by improving public transportation.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said of the approval, "We are systematically moving forward with the approval of the Trajtenberg Report in order to decrease the cost of living."

Netanyahu added: "We are decreasing the powers of monopolies and bureaucracy. The government monopoly is the biggest of them all and will also be dealt with."

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz responded to the approval of the measures, saying "the passage of the sections on competition and re-organization signifies are insistence on lowering the cost of living for citizens by creating competition in the private sector and in public areas such as: public transportation, fuel, cement for building and re-organizing sea ports."

He added: "This is a historic step for the good of the Israeli economy and Israel's citizens."

The Knesset passed its first law based on the Trajtenberg Committee's recommendations earlier this month. “The Bill to Change the Tax Burden” passed its final reading with 40 MKs in favor and none opposed to the measure, which marked a change in the tax code emphasizing benefits for the middle class. The bill combined a government-proposed bill based on Trajtenberg’s findings with initiatives by Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism).

Two weeks ago, the cabinet passed a clause raising by 20 percent the maximum internet purchase that allows a buyer exemption from import tax to NIS 1200. The clause did not require Knesset approval and went immediately into effect.

However, other recommendations from the Trajtenberg report have struggled to pass committee.

The formation of the Trajtenberg Committee was spurred by this summer's tent protests which decried the lack of affordable housing in Israel, yet the committee's recommendations on the subject of housing “remain nothing more than ink on paper,” Knesset Economics Committee chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) said last week.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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