Knesset, Treasury gas up next week’s agenda

The Economics Committee said it would meet Monday to discuss the government’s policy and find ways to reduce the cost to consumers.

By NADAV SHEMER
March 1, 2012 23:11
2 minute read.
Worker filling a gasoline pump.

311_gasoline pumps. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Knesset’s and the Treasury’s agenda next week, after the maximum price of full-service 95-octane rose to a record NIS 7.95 per liter Thursday.

The Energy and Water Ministry initially set the maximum price for March at NIS 8.05, an increase of 38 agorot, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a last-minute order to reduce the fuel excise tax by 10 agorot. The price is determined by five components: the cost of oil, excise tax (now NIS 2.86), marketing margins, value-added tax and a full-service fee (NIS 0.21).

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The Finance Ministry would formulate proposals in the coming months to solve the gasoline issue, Netanyahu’s office said in a press release announcing the 10-agorot cut.

The Economics Committee said it would meet Monday to discuss the government’s policy and find ways to reduce the cost to consumers.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau and Prime Minister’s Office director-general Harel Locker have all been invited.

“The United States, with all its budgetary difficulties and despite the fact that gasoline already costs tens of percentage points less than in Israel, is deliberating emergency steps to reduce the price even further,” Economics Committee chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen said in a press statement. “Only in Israel does the Treasury repeat the same mistakes, displaying uncompromising and extreme stubbornness, so that each time a tank is refilled at the gas station it also refuels the tank of last summer’s protest movement [over the cost of living].”


Meanwhile, Steinitz warned that the price of gasoline could reach NIS 10 in the near future.

He ruled out changing tax policy to prevent each increase, adding that as unpleasant the increase is, it is a consequence of the spike in global oil prices caused by the tightening of sanctions on Iran.

“We are the ones urging everybody to toughen sanctions to prevent Iran from posing a nuclear threat to us and to the world, and to some extent we are paying the price for this policy,” Steinitz told Yediot Aharonot from Beijing, where he was on an official visit. “The aim is to prevent Iran from exporting oil altogether. If this happens, the price of gasoline will reach NIS 9 or 10, and we will have no choice but to deal with it.”

Despite the record price, Israelis still paid less for gasoline on Thursday than most Europeans.

Italian motorists paid 1.81 euros (NIS 9.1) per liter, while motorists in Germany, France and the United Kingdom – the continent’s three most populous countries – paid 1.64 euros to 1.65 euros (NIS 8.28- NIS 8.33). The average across all 27 EU member states was 1.53 euros (NIS 7.72).

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