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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said Wednesday that Israel was likely to weather the European economic crisis, and be only lightly affected by it. Fischer told the Knesset’s Finance Committee that although the dramatic drop in the value of the Euro and the slowdown in the
European economy would impact exports to Europe, those may be
offset by improved exports to the US. However, if the crisis
engulfs the US, which he deemed unlikely, it would be cause for major
concern, said the BoI governor.
“Suddenly” the Greeks discovered “the economic data they had been using was wrong. Their deficit stood at 13 percent rather than five. Their fiscal policy was extremely irresponsible, their debt-to-GDP-ratio was 130%," Fischer said. "Their economy was in deep crisis and they could no longer finance their over-generous budget.”
Fischer also gave his economic forecast for the year 2011, saying the central bank expected a growth rate of 4%, and was updating the forecast for 2010 to 3.7%.
He favorably compared Israel’s unemployment rate to that of the US, which rose from 5% to 10%. Israel’s unemployment rate was just under 6% and are now near 8%.
Speaking before Fischer, Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni opened the session by attacking the detractors of government support for Yeshivot because they are economically unproductive. Gafni said he would go through the budget item by item and see what outlays were economically productive. "Over 60% of the budget is uneconomical,” he told the committee.
“Was the Kibbutzim debt arrangement economical? Are the dramatic
subsidies to agriculture? What about the settlements? I will even say
the investment in development towns isn’t economically worthwhile.”
“This is an ideological issue,” Gafni said. “Zionism and civics classes
are ideological. I’m all-out opposed to the view that only what is
economically productive should be included in the budget. It should be
taken off the public agenda."
Gafni also spoke about the low employment rate among the ultra-orthodox,
saying, “I have said and will say again it is not the haredim who do not
want to go to work, it is the state that does not want them to work, it
lies when it says it wants them to work.”