Finance ministry director forced to attend Knesset meeting on tobacco taxes

According to Knesset rules, a minister, who is not a state bureaucrat, cannot be forced to appear – but a director-general can be forced.

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January 2, 2018 03:56
1 minute read.
Finance ministry director forced to attend Knesset meeting on tobacco taxes

IDF smokes fag 298.88. (photo credit: )

 
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Following the repeated refusal of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and his director-general Shai Babad to come and explain their refusal to tax rolling tobacco and iQOS heated-tobacco products just like regular tobacco, the Knesset Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse issued Babad an official summons.

According to Knesset rules, a minister, who is not a state bureaucrat, cannot be forced to appear – but a director-general can be forced.

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The unprecedented summons was approved unanimously by the committee, which is headed by Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg. Knesset committees are empowered to issue an order to public officials if they do not comply with the committee’s requests to attend hearings.

Zandberg said: “After two previous discussions on tobacco taxation and the taxation of iQOS, the Treasury did not send
representatives.

Since that ministry is the only one authorized to explain to the committee why it refrains from imposing taxes on these products, we are forced to use the tool in our hands to ensure that the public receives a response from decision-makers.”

She added that “the Treasury has twice exposed the committee and the Knesset to ridicule.”

Asked frequently by journalists about the minister and director-general’s refusal, the Finance Ministry spokesman has said that Kahlon “has a policy of refusing to raise taxes,” even though equalizing taxes on the same product – in this case tobacco – is not the same as raising taxes on a product. The Phillip Morris product iQOS has never been taxed.

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