‘Sovereign-wealth fund must be for social purposes'

Knesset Finance Committee MKs say government must explain clearly which social projects it will finance.

By NADAV SHEMER
February 21, 2012 23:41
1 minute read.
MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ)

MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The government’s proposed sovereign-wealth fund must be used to finance social projects rather than security needs, Knesset Finance Committee MKs said Tuesday.

The government must explain clearly which social projects it will finance using the fund, and if it fails to do so, the committee will draft its own clause to be sent to the Knesset for approval, committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said.

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“We will not legislate for another law that transfers more funds to the bottomless pit of the defense budget,” he said.

“This is contradictory to the spirit of the law. If the law is not brought to the committee for approval within one month, we will consider taking our own measures.”

The cabinet announced Sunday its plan to create a sovereign- wealth fund from future natural-gas and oil royalties. A committee consisting of officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Treasury and the Bank of Israel recommended using the fund to invest in global markets, allocating a portion of the profits to governmentapproved education and defense projects.

Finance Committee members Tzion Pinyan (Likud), Avishay Braverman (Labor), Ghaleb Majadle (Labor), Uri Ariel (National Union) and Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) said they would oppose the recommendations on the grounds that it addressed security needs rather than social needs.

National Economic Council chairman Eugene Kandel, who headed the sovereign-wealth fund committee, rejected criticism that his team took too long to formulate its recommendations.

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He said members of his team had also been involved in the Trajtenberg Committee and the Concentration Committee, “each of them complicated matters that required great effort and resources.”

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