(photo credit: AP)
Shas and the Labor Party oppose the Treasury's economic stimulus package for political reasons, Kadima chairman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday.
"It is aggravating to see that there are political parties who are trying to attain political capital at the expense of the public," she said. "The behavior of Shas and the Labor Party in opposing the emergency stimulus package teaches us why we shouldn't vote for sectarian parties. The program is essential in dealing with the crisis in the real economy and a potential recession, independent of the question of the state's provision for a safety net for savings."
Livni said opposing the economic package prepared by the Treasury would withhold billions of shekels of investment in infrastructure and support for businesses.
On Sunday, the package was approved in principle by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The economic recovery plan will be presented to the socioeconomic cabinet on Wednesday; relevant parts will be passed to the Knesset Finance Committee for approval before the plan is presented to the public.
Shas on Tuesday denied it opposed the plan.
"We will support the plan after necessary changes are made to the establishment of the fund for loans and to assist small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as to the amount of investment into employment," Shas chairman and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said. "I want the Israeli citizen who is currently under great strain to be able to get assistance today and not a year from now."
An emergency meeting scheduled for Tuesday with representatives from the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, the Histadrut Labor Federation and the Manufacturers Association of Israel to discuss the recent wave of layoffs was postponed because Budget Supervisor Ram Belinkov was not informed about it in time to attend.
Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini said Tuesday he would meet with Belinkov on Wednesday to discuss the economic crisis. Eini is calling upon the finance minister to implement incentives and subsidize salaries to avert a big wave of layoffs. He also wants the government to provide a safety net for employees who have paid into pension and provident funds.
In recent weeks, local companies have started to lay off employees and institute efficiency measures to prepare for a significant slowdown in the economy: 16 percent of local firms are expected to limit the kilometers of company cars, 3% will limit gas consumption and 6% will switch to cheaper cars, according to a survey conducted by the Manufacturers Association of Israel in conjunction with Pilat HR Consulting.