Netanyahu cabinet meeting 390.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that he had lowered fuel taxes to ease the financial burden on Israelis amid rising world oil prices, but warned that the government must maintain tax revenues in order to pay for social benefits and defense improvements, such as additional Iron Dome rocket-defense batteries.
Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu addressed his intervention to reduce the size of a gas increase which went into effect on Saturday at midnight from 20 agurot to 5 agurot.
"We lowered the fuel tax for the fourth time in a year, totaling more than 80 agurot. All told, taxes in Israel are lower than most countries in Europe," Netanyahu stated.
He added: "We do not control world fuel prices, but we can try, in a measured and responsible way to ease the citizens' troubles."
Netanyahu said that it was most important to stay within the budget and refrain from increasing the deficit. He stated that those calling for lower taxes and more deficit-spending were "irresponsible" and lacking financial knowledge.
"We need taxes to buy additional Iron Dome
batteries, to finish building the border fence with Egypt, to fund free education from age three, and to help the elderly and the needy.
Netanyahu praised Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for solving the fuel crisis in a responsible manner.
According to a statement released Saturday by the Prime Minister’s Office, the revenue lost by the decreased tax will be made up through “efficiency” measures to be employed by each government ministry. Under the plan, ministerial staffs will be reduced by some 2 percent, as retiring employees will not be replaced.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.