Cabinet takes duty of web purchases up to NIS 1,200

Netanyahu implores ministers to approve string of measures to bring down cost of living; vote postponed due to time constraints.

December 4, 2011 14:00
4 minute read.
PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting

PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


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The Israeli shopper’s horizons widened considerably on Sunday when the cabinet approved Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s directive to make purchases of goods over the Internet up to NIS 1,200 exempt from customs duty.

“The tax exemption on Internet purchases will increase competitiveness and lower prices,” Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting where various recommendations of the Trajtenberg Committee were scheduled to be discussed and voted on.

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The cabinet on Sunday was expected to approve a string of measures to bring down living costs, including opening the country’s cement market to competition, and removing duty on Internet purchases of up to NIS 1,200. Netanyahu said Sunday that the benefits would save Israelis "hundreds of shekels each month."

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Goods – excluding tobacco or alcohol – ordered for private use and sent by either mail or air freight will be exempt from duty. The exemption does not require legislation to go into effect and will begin as soon as Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz signs the order, something expected in the near future.

The cabinet meeting was cut short and only the Internet clause was approved on Sunday because of a massive traffic jam on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway caused by a burning bus that delayed the arrival of several ministers, and also because the ministers went to a memorial service for former prime minister David Ben- Gurion at Sde Boker.

Other steps to reduce the cost of living recommended by the Trajtenberg Committee are to be discussed at next Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said these recommendations need an in-depth discussion where every minister will be able to speak.

“This is an important discussion we have waited for already for 20 years,” he said.

Netanyahu said the benefits that the cabinet will discuss are intended to “reduce the cost of housing and travel on public transportation, and are designed to assist in lowering gas and fuel prices.”

Among the steps that will be taken up at a next week’s cabinet meeting are: • Opening the country’s cement market – currently dominated by Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises – to greater competition and placing cement prices under government supervision.

• Putting dairy products and eggs under supervision to bring down their prices.

• Strengthening the country’s Antitrust Authority to give it more effective tools to “monitor deviations in the economy.”

• Increasing the number of bodies providing public transportation to reduce fares.

• Reducing the price of gas for homes, bringing it in line with gas prices paid by businesses.

• Increasing competition in the fuel market by opening 40 new gasoline stations, and placing the price of diesel fuel under supervision.

Netanyahu said the government is able to take steps to reduce the cost of living because it has managed the economy in a “responsible” manner.

“We will continue to act responsibly as we give a genuine response to the socioeconomic and security needs of the State of Israel in the face of the global economic upheaval and the geopolitical upheaval in our region,” he said.

Netanyahu said another side effect of the economic upheavals was the “flooding of illegal infiltrators” into Eilat. The prime minister, who visited Eilat last week and met with both local residents and infiltrators, said that what he heard from the local residents was “despair among mothers and fathers and business owners, who feel that they are losing their city and the ability to have a normal life, and who are concerned about going around the streets in the evening, and whose jobs are being taken away.”

Netanyahu, who has made the construction of a fence along the 240-kilometer border with Egypt a high priority, said the flood of “illegal, job-seeking infiltrators” was a threat to Israel’s “economy, society, security and to the delicate demographic fabric upon which Israel is based.”

He said that last week he had convened a meeting of the ministerial team charged with dealing with the infiltration issue and, in addition to accelerating the construction of the fence and having it completed by this time next year, he issued directives to impose heavier fines on employers of illegal infiltrators. He said deterring employers from hiring the infiltrators was as important as constructing the fence because jobs are the magnet that attracts them to the country in the first place.

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