Peres calls for tax breaks for growth industries

"If Israel marshals all its creativity, chutzpah, and wisdom, this crisis could become a new opportunity," said President Shimon Peres.

Peres 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Peres 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
President Shimon Peres on Sunday called upon the government to offer tax incentives for enterprises to invest in the five leading industries of the future in an effort to secure Israel's leadership position and curb economic growth amid the global crisis. "If Israel marshals all its creativity, chutzpah, and wisdom, this crisis could become a new opportunity to become a new republic of creativity and new innovative opportunities, rather than a republic of pure consumption," said Peres at the Globes Israel Business Conference on Sunday. "We should not delve into pessimism. The most important thing now is to be daring rather than to be afraid. This year is a bridge year, those who will cross it will stay alive and the rest will drown." Over recent months, Peres has been working on the formulation of his own economic plan together with senior economists, army heads and the leaders of the three political parties Binyamin Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak. "I forecast that the industry of the future will be based on five central areas, which are renewable energy, water technology, stem cell research, homeland security and interactive education technology," said Peres. "In all of these areas, Israel already has a reputation and thus should use the global crisis as an opportunity and a chance to keep its leadership position. For this purpose the government should implement a 10-year tax exemption for everyone who wants to invest in these fields, in research, development, and production, from the date that the investment begins yielding a profit." Peres added that the new economic agenda needed to include efforts to bring back Israeli scientists from abroad and in parallel the government must expand the research & development budgets of the Chief Scientist to NIS 1 billion for investment into these five areas rather than the addition of the NIS 200 million as planned. In the area of education, Peres economic plan proposes a revolutionary approach which would encourage combining academic studies with military service. "I believe that we can turn the IDF into a university," said Peres. "The idea is that soldiers will be leaving their military service with a first degree." Furthermore Peres called for the immediate approval of the 2009 state budget by the Knesset by the end of this year. "The lack of an approved budget brings uncertainty that will harm public confidence," said Peres. Commenting on the safety net for pension savings, Peres recommended spreading out debt repayments, increasing the budget deficit in a controlled manner, and cutting the interest rate. Peres also appealed to employers not to rush to fire employees, allow unpaid leave or part-time work. "Employers should assume that we can overcome the crisis rather than be broken by it," said Peres. "Optimists are smart people too."