Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Likud party meeting at parliament in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In an apparent about face, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Wednesday that it supported a bill backed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to limit executive pay at financial institutions.
In an interview with Army Radio, PMO Director-General Eli Groner said that discussions of sending the bill back to committee that surfaced on Tuesday were misconstrued, and that Netanyahu simply wanted to understand the bill’s contents.
“The bill went into the committee one way and came out another way, and I wanted to measure and understand the implications. That said, I’ll repeat: this is an important reform of the finance minister, and the prime minister backs him in the matter,” he said.
The reform, passed in the Knesset Finance Committee last week, would cap tax breaks on executive salaries at financial firms such as banks, limiting them to only the first NIS 2.5 million, or 35 times the wage of the lowest-paid worker. Every shekel paid beyond that limit would be penalized with an extra tax.
On Tuesday, when reports surfaced that Netanyahu was considering blocking the bill, the political backlash was quick and harsh.
“Netanyahu is protecting the interests of his friends in the Capital Club, and is sending them a message that they are really the ones who own the place,” Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said.
Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy said the government was in a state of confusion.
“We again discover that in this government, the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing, so that the nation cannot be run. It cannot be that after a serious discussion in the Finance Committee, and agreements with a government minister on the details of a law, that same government will change its mind just a few days later,” he said.
Speaking at a Calcalist conference, Kahlon slammed the news that Netanyahu was rethinking the bill, saying that he shouldn’t read about changes to the coalition deal in the press.
Groner did say that Netanyahu was opposed to expanding the bill outside the financial sector, a position opposition MKs pushed during last week’s committee hearings.