Lapid: Changes in the economy will take time

Finance minister to meet with PM over budget cuts only after meeting with BOI governor later this week.

Yair Lapid at the President's residence 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yair Lapid at the President's residence 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The meeting set for Sunday morning between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid to discuss budget cuts has been postponed, Israeli media reported Sunday.
According to Army Radio, Netanyahu has requested that Lapid postpones enacting budget cuts until next year.
Lapid was scheduled to consult with Bank of Israel Governer Stanley Fischer later this week to discuss the matter.
Lapid encouraged the public to be patient as he enacts reforms.
Meanwhile, the finance minister faced criticism from coalition and opposition politicians, who questioned his appropriateness for the important position.
“An economy can’t be changed in a day, and not in three weeks, either,” Lapid wrote on Facebook on Saturday, referring to his time in office. “First of all, we need to return to responsible behavior so we do not turn into Greece or Spain.”
Lapid explained that he knows people are afraid of budget cuts and that some people do not have money to make it through the month, but that his ministry is working on a “painful and necessary fix that will not continue for too much time.”
“The changes are part of a long-term plan to reform education and housing, lower the cost of living and bring equality in the burden of national service,” Lapid said. “Everything that is important to the working man in Israel.”
The finance minister wrote that he hopes to balance the budget and change priorities, emphasizing values of mutual responsibility and fairness.
“It will take time, but it will succeed. It will succeed because we will be determined and patient and not give in to populist, impatient discourse,” he added. “We’ve come to make a change, and we need your help.”
Also on Saturday, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) criticized Lapid for not keeping his election campaign promises.
“The finance minister asked ‘where is the money’ [during his campaign], said that the middle class will not be the public’s ATM and promised new politics. Two minutes after he was appointed to his job, he brings Netanyahu’s exact plan and plans harsh cuts,” Yacimovich stated.
According to the Labor leader, “Lapid is making life [for the middle class] very difficult, instead of taking from the pockets of those who have more.”
Meanwhile, Knesset Education Committee chairman Amram Mitzna (Hatnua) called making Lapid finance minister “a gamble.”
“Appointing [Environmental Protection Minister Amir] Peretz as defense minister [in 2006] was irresponsible,” Mitzna said in reference to his political rival in Hatnua, “and in the same way, Lapid as finance minister is a gamble.”
Speaking at a cultural event in Holon, Mitzna said he hopes that Lapid will bring “new politics that will not hurt weak populations and give up on cuts for all ministries.”
Mitzna also referred to his disappointment after Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni made Peretz a minister even though Mitzna was second on the party’s Knesset list.
“I received a promise from Livni, and there was disappointment,” he said. “This is the way of politics, but the public expects us to stop complaining, roll up our sleeves and continue working. I see the Education Committee not as a consolation prize, but a major challenge.”