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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Treasury, Israel Tax Authority, the State Attorney's Office and the police investigation unit are working on a joint project to fight economic corruption, Finance Ministry Budget Supervisor Koby Haber said Monday.
In addition, a separate economics division is being set up within the police involving 300 policemen.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the budget department held in remembrance of Treasury employees who fell during the Yom Kippur War, Haber emphasized the importance of the fight against corruption by people who know the subject.
Meanwhile, in his first public address since taking office as interim director of the Tax Authority this week, Yossi Bachar warned that if rulings and collection at the authority were impaired, the whole system would stop working, resulting in a slowing of the economy.
"If decisions and rulings are not made out of fear and the tax system stopped working, the courts would become jammed and the entire system would come to a halt," Bachar said at the annual conference of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants on Monday. "I will never be an expert on tax, what I am here for is to make sure that even in the short-term the system continues to work and this is what I am going to try to do."
Although initially hesitant to take the post, Bachar said that he at last accepted because he was made to understand by those he respected that he had no other choice.
"They told me that I must be crazy to do this but that I just didn't have a choice," said Bachar. "Last week, we and the entire State of Israel woke up to a nightmare, which hit us completely out of the blue."
Bachar underlined his confidence that the name of Jacky Matza, who was released to house arrest Monday night, would be cleared and that law enforcement authorities would end the case quickly.
"I hope my mission will be short and that I can hand the leadership back to Jacky quickly, but now the tax authority needs an injection of support to restore order and this is why I took up the post," said Bachar. "I have much faith in the work of the tax authority employees, which has proven itself when we look at the growing tax revenues even though taxes were being cut, as well as in the efficient handling of the pile of recuperation claims from the Second War in Lebanon."
Accountants and lawyers gathered at the conference lamented over the potential reluctance of authorities to make judgment calls or show any flexibility following the scandal.
"Tax authority officials are involved in a lot of decision making and to avert a halt, we need to restore their support and confidence in making such decisions," Reuven Schiff, president of the Certified Public Accountants told The Jerusalem Post.
At the same time Bachar pointed to the importance of having proper governing bodies and institutions.
"When you talk to foreign investors about risk assessment of a country, they are interested in proper governing authorities like the tax authorities and proper institutions like banks," he said.