House in Ashkelon 521.
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Coalition and opposition members spoke out against an article in the budget
canceling grants for housing in the periphery, in a meeting of the Knesset
Control Committee Wednesday.
The 2013-2014 budget cancels grants of up to
NIS 100,000 to those buying homes outside of the Center of the country, as the
Finance Ministry determined that the stipends did not successfully encourage
people to move to the periphery.
“Grants can have a negative effect on
the housing market and lead to price increases,” Finance Ministry representative
Ariel Yotzer said, defending the policy.
“If our goal is to encourage
people to move to the periphery, we have to check how much new construction
there was in those areas.”
According to Yotzer, there was a drop in new
construction, and that those who already planned to move to the periphery
received the grants.
According to MK Orly Levy- Abecassis (Likud
Beytenu), Yisrael Beytenu will not support the budget if the grant is not
“The Finance Ministry contradicts itself. If it wants to
cancel the grant because it isn’t used, then where are the savings? If it wants
to save an expense, then that proves the grant led people to buy homes in the
periphery,” she said.
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel
admitted that some government decisions do not help the housing
“We need massive numbers of homes sold throughout the country,
and everyone’s pressure can help,” he told the MKs. “The battle to lower housing
prices is everyone’s battle.”
Housing Ministry director-general Shlomo
Ben-Eliahu added that the Finance Ministry decided to cancel the grant on its
own, without discussing the matter with the Housing Ministry.
Control Committee chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) warned that lawsuits by citizens
who were promised the grants and did not receive them will cost the government
“The purpose of the plan is to encourage people to move to the
periphery in order to strengthen our economy and society and lower housing
prices,” Cohen said.
According to the Shas MK, the Finance Ministry did
not like the idea of housing grants to begin with, and saw the new government as
an opportunity to cancel them.
Cohen also called for MKs present to “form
a united front, without coalition or opposition,” to make sure the grants are
“After all the speeches and promises by the government,
they cut off the flow of blood to the periphery,” said MK Itzik Shmuli (Labor),
who submitted the motion to the agenda leading to the Control Committee
Shmuli added: “NIS 60,000 is 10 percent of the value of an
apartment in these areas, and the minimum the government must give its citizens
is an extension of a year to allow those who started to buy homes because of the
promised grant to finish the process.”
MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah
Judaism) claimed that the grants led to a 71% increase in construction in the
periphery, and that their cancellation will harm haredim and young non-haredi
couples looking for cheaper housing.
“There seems to be a trend of
harming haredim – cutting daycares subsidies, free dental care and housing
grants – even if the rest of the population is harmed on the way,” MK Orit
Struck (Bayit Yehudi) said.
MK Shimon Ohayon (Likud Beytenu) expressed
outrage that the South, which is often attacked by rockets from Gaza, is being
treated poorly by the government.
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