Lapid: Israel has a monstrous overdraft

New Finance Minister Yair Lapid prepares the ground for budget cuts and tax hikes in his Passover message.

By GUY KATSOVICH/GLOBES
March 27, 2013 20:21
2 minute read.
Yair Lapid makes first speech before Knesset, Feb 11

Yair Lapid 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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"Like Moshe, I will do the right thing. That's what Yesh Atid is doing. We are doing the right thing, what really has to happen here so that an entire generation will be in the right places," said Yesh Atid chairman Minister of Finance Yair Lapid in a video clip posted on his Facebook page during Passover.

This is not the first time that Lapid has mentioned "tough decisions" that he will have to make at the Ministry of Finance, implying that budget cuts are necessary to reign in the government deficit. In a newsletter to Yesh Atid supporters, he said, "The picture that is slowly emerging before me is far worse than I imagined. Forget words like "deficit" and "fiscal crisis", I will put it much more simply: I came to renovate the house, but I discovered that we have an overdraft. What kind of overdraft? Monstrous, ominous and growing."

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Later today, Lapid will renew financial discussions with top Ministry of Finance officials. In talks with top ministry officials on Sunday, Lapid expressed concern over the huge deficit, and by the low participation in the labor force of haredim (ultra-orthodox) and Arabs. He has also held a working meeting with Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer last week, and speaking by phone with US Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew.

"It will be a hard and unpopular road, and I will take tough decisions because of what you have sent me here to do, and I need you," continued Lapid in his Facebook address. "I need you today no less than I needed you during the election campaign, I you to go out and say, 'Look, we're doing what is right. We're not playing games, we're doing what is necessary because that what Yesh Atid is for'."

Lapid concluded, "I see this as liberty. There is liberty in doing the right things. And that's what we're going to do. I am prouder of you than ever, now is the time to protect the positions that aren’t always easy to pass. That is our power; we know to do these things together. The road from slavery to freedom is to monitor your internal truth."

Minister of Social Affairs Meir Cohen, also of Yesh Atid, promises to fight any reductions in welfare, even at the cost of internal conflict in the party. "I will fight for the budget even at the cost of war between brothers of a war between friends. There are many other places with fat, but not in welfare, and I will fight uncompromisingly," he said.

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