A shopper in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir on Sunday agreed to lower import tariffs on a variety of vegetables after crops were damaged in a major storm in December.
Prices of fruit and vegetable staples shot up due to storm-related shortages. As a result, all duties on imported zucchini, eggplant, and lettuce will be lifted through the end of February. Duties will also be lifted for 3,000 tons of tomatoes and 1,500 tons of cucumber through the end of March.
As a result of a developing shortage of apples and pears, the ministries will eliminate duties on 3,000 tons of apples and 8,000 tons of pears through the end of 2014, starting in March.
“This is another step toward reducing the cost of living,” said Lapid. “The decision to reduce the duties on crops that were damaged in the storm is aimed first and foremost at savings on consumer spending.
We will continue to act to relieve the middle class and cheapen the food basket for families.”
The steps followed a reduction in costs of milk and eggs, whose prices are supervised, Shamir noted.
“The Agriculture Ministry will continue to act toward increasing competition in the Israeli agricultural branch, but in addition will take care to ensure fair compensation for producers, with an emphasis on strengthening family businesses,” he said.
The limits on import duties on the items ranges from NIS 0.49 per kilogram of eggplants to NIS 2.21 per kilogram of pears, but are limited to certain thresholds relative to the original price of the produce, ranging from 89% for lettuce to 438% for pears.