Shalom Simhon 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon called Tuesday for the Value
Added Tax on basic foods, medicine for the elderly, and toddler daycare centers
to be reduced to eight percent.
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Lowering the VAT on these items from 16%
would increase the spending power of the middle class, he said in an interview
with Israel Radio. “Until now the middle class has carried a load greater than
its proportion to the population, and the balance has to change,” he
Simhon also confirmed that he and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz
will on Sunday announce their proposal of new rules and regulations for the
dairy industry, in light of the Kedmi Committee’s recommendation that the
government supervise the quarterly profits of manufacturers and supermarket
chains instead of controlling shelf prices.
“We have tried hard to
operate with sensitivity,” Simhon said. “The dairy farmers will benefit. The
committee recommended that the government allow them to grow and to manufacture
more in the coming years, so that their revenues will increase. In addition, the
government will provide subsidies over a period to ensure that dairy farming
becomes more economical and profitable. The smaller dairy farms won’t be
affected. Naturally, the larger dairy farms will pay more.”
Committee’s recommendations have not pleased everybody, with Agriculture
Minister Orit Noked slamming it over what she called “a lack of
“The Kedmi Committee has not cooperated with
Agriculture Ministry professionals, and its conclusions will destroy the dairy
industry,” Noked said during a tour of dairy farms in Kfar Vitkin, a moshav just
north of Netanya.
She added that at next Sunday’s cabinet meeting, she
will submit an alternative proposal for the dairy industry that she said would
reduce retail prices while protecting farmers.
chairwoman Zehavit Cohen met in her office Tuesday with Itzik Elrov and Beny
Groberman, organizers of the mass consumer boycott of dairy products in June
that prompted the government’s investigation into the industry.
meeting, which lasted two hours, both sides agreed they should keep discussions
open, and Elrov and Groberman proposed the establishment of a roundtable in
which all the links in the chain – dairy farmers, manufacturers, supermarkets
and the government – would participate.
Cohen said Tnuva would
participate in the initiative and that whenever a proposed solution holds every
link in the chain responsible, Tnuva would do its part.
dairy farmers say they will hold back the supply of milk to manufacturers as
part of a day-long protest over the government’s decision to lower the amount
they get for a liter of milk by 6 agorot.