Knesset gas-tax hearings canceled

“It doesn’t seem appropriate that two Knesset committees should hold separate hearings on the same recommendations" says Knesset Speaker Rivlin.

By SHARON WROBEL
January 17, 2011 07:02
2 minute read.
Drillling for gas offshore

Offshore Gas Drilling 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Knesset committee hearings scheduled for Monday on the Sheshinski Committee recommendations to raise taxes on gas and oil profits have been canceled.

“It doesn’t seem appropriate that two Knesset committees should hold separate hearings on the same recommendations, because that could result in two different decisions,” Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Sunday in a letter to the chairmen of the Finance and Economics committees. “In the eyes of the public, this important issue would become a power struggle between Knesset committees and likely damage the Knesset’s image and weight of its decisions.”

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The Sheshinski Committee recommendations were scheduled to be discussed in a morning session by the Finance Committee and in an afternoon session by the Economics Committee.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Sheshinski Committee chairman Eytan Sheshinski were expected to appear at the Finance Committee meeting. In the letter, Rivlin suggested that the committees establish a joint session.

The committee chairmen agreed to meet with Rivlin in the coming days to discuss the possibility of having a joint committee.

In a letter to the Knesset earlier this month, Steinitz requested that the Finance Committee discuss the recommendations without the participation of the Economics Committee.

Meanwhile, the Economics Committee said Sunday it would vote again on Monday over the question of whether a higher tax should be levied on future and current exploration sites such as Tamar and Leviathan.



Earlier this month, the committee voted in favor of excluding the Tamar gas find from the Sheshinski Committee’s final recommendations, amid concerns raised by the National Infrastructures Ministry that levying a new tax regime on the Tamar site retroactively would impair development of its naturalgas reserves and delay electricity supply to Israel. The panel’s vote has no significance for the approval or rejection of the recommendations and is more declarative in nature.

The Sheshinski Committee has recommended raising the government’s take on gas profits to between 52 percent and 62%, up from the current 30%.

More than 120 academics on Sunday expressed their support for the Sheshinski Committee’s recommendations. They signed a petition by the Israeli Center for Social Justice calling upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the government to adopt the recommendations in an effort to create a balance between the public interest and a fair levy on gas and oil exploration companies.

The Israeli Center for Social Justice is a nonprofit organization that promotes the principles of social justice, equality of opportunity and social solidarity.

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