Trajtenberg Committee 'Rothschild Team' 311 .
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
A senior member of the Trajtenberg Committee on socioeconomic change rejected
criticism Thursday that its final report is a repackaging of unimplemented
Business federation threatens court suit against Histadrut
“The difference between this committee and previous
committees is that ours has macroeconomic support and the backing of the
[Treasury] budgets department,” Dr. Yoram Gabbai said at a briefing to the
Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.
The Trajtenberg Report, which
aims to resolve deep-seated socioeconomic grievances aired
by summer-long public
protests, is expected to be put to a cabinet vote on Sunday.
stressed throughout Thursday’s meeting that the committee had played its role
and that it was now up to the politicians and bureaucrats to ensure the report
Gabbai, a former head of the Finance Ministry’s revenue
department, responded to allegations from senior members of the business sector
who said the committee had focused mainly on solutions for the lower
“We didn’t prepare a report aimed just at the weaker strata of
Israeli society,” he said. “That would be a matter for another committee. The
Trajtenberg Committee made universal recommendations, although the emphasis was
on working families with small children, and we needed to act within the
“This was the best report possible from the
perspective of universal benefit,” he added.
The business officials with
whom Gabbai met were most bothered by the report’s recommendation to raise the
company tax to 25 percent next year, with one calling it “populism” that would
damage economic growth.
Gabbai admitted that “there is a price to pay”
for the tax hike, but he said the committee could not have proposed the
far-reaching changes it did without taking such necessary steps.
addressed each of the four areas of the report: housing, social services, the
cost of living and taxation.
Regarding the cost of living, he justified
the report’s recommendation that import tariffs be removed, saying it would
“The prices of clothing, shoes, home wares and
furniture have been dropping because those industries have competition,” he
said. “The only way to maintain and develop competition is through the removal
of import duties. If there is no competition, as is the case in the food
industry, the futile game begins in which industry regulators try to find who is
to blame for the high prices.”
Gabbai also addressed the involvement of
the protest movement’s leaders in the committee’s deliberations.
they had been consulted, he said, many of the demonstrators hold almost
revolutionary ideals that were hard to reconcile with the work of the committee,
which was working on pragmatic solutions.
“We believe that fundamental
change can be made while playing within the rules, while some of the protest
leaders want to change those rules altogether,” Gabbai said.