Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Sunday defended Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's intervention to reduce the size of a planned gas increase, saying that the move had been discussed since Monday and was not made as a result of public pressure.
Netanyahu's announcement came shortly after Steinitz had made a television appearance on Channel 2, defending the price hike as a necessary evil, given the importance of sanctions on Iran, which have driven up world oil prices.
The price of gas rose at midnight by 5 agorot, instead of the planned 20 agorot hike, meaning that one liter of gas at a full-service station will now cost NIS 8 ($8.16 per gallon), and a liter of self-service gas will cost NIS 7.79 ($7.95 per gallon).
Steinitz rejected claims that the move was a populist gesture by Netanyahu, made behind the finance minister's back. He said in an Army Radio interview on Sunday that the decision was made within the constraints of the budget. According to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, the revenue lost by the decreased tax will be made up through “efficiency” measures to be employed by each government ministry. Under the plan, ministerial staffs will be reduced by some 2 percent, as retiring employees will not be replaced.
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