Humanitarian aid organization Latet Sunday decried Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's approval of a 7 percent increase in bread prices last week and plans to raise the prices of other regulated food staples such as milk, sugar and eggs, as well as public transport over the next few months.
"The new government, which was meant to find a real solution to the problem of poverty in this country, is instead sending a message that citizens must fend for themselves as no one else is willing to take care of them," commented Latet chairman Eran Weintraub. "This latest rise in the price of basic food staples takes the plight of the needy one step backwards."
In the Knesset, incoming Industry, Trade and Employment Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said he would fight the decision. Likud party MKs said the party planned to submit a no-confidence motion at Monday's plenum over the 7 percent rise in bread prices. The rise, which is the second increase in bread prices in the past six months, will mean an additional 25 to 40 agorot per loaf.
It was also announced Sunday that the cost of sugar, milk, eggs and public transport would also rise between 5-10% in the coming months.
According to Latet, the increase will significantly raise the monthly food bills of the needy. Statistics collected by the organization, which represents 113 non-profit food organizations involved in food distribution to the needy, show an average family of four requires NIS 1395.2 a month for basic provisions. A rise of 5% to food prices will mean an additional NIS 23.74 a month per family and a 10% increase will put the cost up NIS 24.87 a month. These figures do not include the growing cost of public transportation, which most poor families depend upon.
"The burden of helping these needy families on non-profit aid organizations is much too heavy and I do not know if we can continue to sustain it for that much longer," said Weintraub. "I call on politicians in Israel to come up with a basic plan to defeat growing poverty."