PM: Impossible to lower taxes and pay for programs

Netanyahu says gov't doesn't control world oil prices, but decided to make a responsible fuel tax cut to ease financial burden.

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April 2, 2012 02:07
2 minute read.
PM Netanyahu at weekly cabinet meeting

Netanyahu cabinet meeting 390. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Anyone who says it is possible to lower taxes and increase services doesn’t know what he is talking about, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday, just hours after he lowered the tax on gasoline to keep prices down for consumers.

“I would like to make it clear – we do not control world gasoline prices,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting. “The price of gasoline is rising all over the world, in all countries. What we can do is to try and ease the burden on citizens in a responsible and measured way, and this is what we are doing.”

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Netanyahu said his decision Saturday night to reduce gas taxes and thereby lower by some 15 agorot the gas hikes that went into effect Sunday morning marked the fourth time he has taken such a move in a year. All told, he said, his interventions have trimmed some 80 agorot off the gas price increases over the last 12 months. He noted that Israel’s taxes on gasoline are lower than in many European countries.

Netanyahu said that even though he reduced the taxes, Israel has maintained its budgetary framework and that within a week he would submit a proposal drawn up by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to maintain the framework even as the revenue from gasoline tax decreases.

“Whoever says that it is possible to lower taxes and broaden expenditures without making an account lacks economic knowledge and is irresponsible,” he said.

Netanyahu said the tax revenue is needed to purchase additional Iron Dome batteries, complete work on the border fence going up with Egypt, pay for free education for children and care for the elderly. He added that in the past two years – “for the first time in many years” – the country’s poverty index has started to decline.

“The number of poor people in the State of Israel dropped for the first time in years because we have invested in the elderly and have encouraged the ultra-Orthodox and Arabs to join the work force,” he said. “For the first time, the clock is turning.”

His comments came during a meeting marking the completion of his government’s first three years in office.

“This is the most stable government in the last 20 years,” Netanyahu said.

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