Trajtenberg denies reports of c'tee recommendations

Trajtenberg says Channel 2 list of c'tee conclusions - such as defense budget cuts and education reform - based on rumor.

Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg (photo credit: Mark Neiman / GPO)
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg
(photo credit: Mark Neiman / GPO)
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg said Thursday that his committee charged with recommending socioeconomic changes had not reached any final conclusions, rebuffing a Channel 2 News report claiming to have already received a number of the committee’s recommendations.
In the last few days there has been a growing wave of rumors trying to forecast the committee’s suggestions, Trajtenberg said in a video posted on the committee’s YouTube channel, Teammanuel2011.
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“I want to make it clear: there are still no completed or agreed-upon recommendations whatsoever. And I think that as chairman of the committee, I am the only person authorized to say that.”
About 30 people demonstrated outside the Prime Minister’s Residence on Rehov Gaza in Jerusalem on Thursday evening to protest the lack of action regarding social demands and demonstrate their displeasure with the Trajtenberg Committee. The demonstrators papered Netanyahu’s garage with large dollar signs.
Trajtenberg said the committee was still working hard “within an impossible timetable.” In the next week it will hold two marathon sittings in order to reach its conclusions, he said, adding that then, and only then, would it be possible to publish its recommendations.
“It would be irresponsible and wrong to react one-byone to the predictions that were published, given that no recommendations have yet been made,” he said.
“But, it must be recalled that we have said time after time in meetings with the public that we will focus, among other things, on education, that there will be a meaningful chapter on housing and on the cost of living, and that there will be far-reaching change on taxation.”
According to the Channel 2 report, which was broadcast Wednesday night, the committee will suggest that NIS 1 billion-3b. be cut from the Defense Ministry’s budget next year, in order to provide part of the funds needed for a more socially-oriented plan. It also said the committee will propose gradually implemented free education from age three, a longer school day and funding for increased supervision and regulations on day care institutions.
The report also suggested that a plan was to increase the number of people eligible for negative income tax to families with two salaries.
While prominent protest leader Daphni Leef welcomed the reported reforms, she pointed out that the only way to change the difficult economic reality is for the government to create a new social budget for 2012.
It is a matter of priorities, she said, adding that the options being suggested will make little difference if the existing state budget remains the same.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said the Channel 2 report made it seem like Trajtenberg has recommended “bandages meant to close mouths or cover wounds, instead of a real, deep solution to problems.” However, Livni added that she will “respect Trajtenberg’s request to wait until the official report is released before commenting.”
Earlier Thursday, Kadima released a statement saying: “The apparent recommendations of the Trajtenberg Committee are a deception and spit in the face of millions of Israelis.
“The good news about education does not hide the massive vacuum in housing, transportation, and heavy taxation of the middle class, and reinforces the crooked priorities of the Netanyahu government, which led the masses to take to the streets,” the Kadima spokesman said.
Likud responded to Kadima’s criticism by saying that “this government acts, while Kadima only talks.
“The Netanyahu government did and does 10 times more for social matters than the Kadima government did,” a Likud spokeswoman stated. “In housing, it was Netanyahu that freed two obstacles that prevented building – the Israel Lands Authority and the regional construction committees – allowing tens of thousands of homes to be built.” In addition, this year 45,000 building projects were initiated, as opposed to 30,000 in the previous year, the party said.
However, not everyone in Likud is happy with the reports of Trajtenberg’s recommendations.
According to Knesset Economics Committee chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud), “the committee’s reported conclusions are somewhere between a disappointment and a missed opportunity, even though the recommendations for education are certainly impressive.”
Shama-Hacohen said the Knesset Economics Committee will hold a meeting next week to discuss Trajtenberg’s recommendations.
“This is not the way to build strength and social justice,” MK Miri Regev (Likud) said. “The recommendations do not give a real answer to housing or the cost of living, they do not give hope to young people and do not give justice to the weak and elderly.
“The Likud should be careful not to lose its voters and the government over this.”
Activists also expressed concern over the reported recommendations.
“They are confirming the concerns that we expressed weeks ago. The Trajtenberg committee does not have a mandate to bring out profound socioeconomic change,” Leef said.

“It certainly does not address the reasons why hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest during the summer,” she continued, adding “these conclusions do not constitute a real and marked change in the desired direction.”
Student Union head Itzik Shmuely responded to the media that the changes simply do not go far enough to address the public’s needs.
Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.
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