Lapid proposes NIS 18 billion in spending cuts

Finance minister presents budget draft to Netanyahu, Fischer; says Israel moving from "culture of stipends to culture of work."

Lapid at faction meeting 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Lapid at faction meeting 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid presented his draft 2013-2014 budget to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer on Monday, proposing NIS 18 billion in budget cuts and NIS five billion in tax hikes.
According to the draft, the budget deficit will remain at three percent for 2014, as Fischer had insisted upon. Lapid had originally wanted the deficit target to be raised to 3.5 percent.
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich slammed Lapid's proposed budget cuts and tax raises on Monday, saying that his proposals were identical to those proposed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Speaking at a Labor faction meeting, Yacimovich said that Lapid's proposed NIS 18 billion in spending cuts, and NIS 5 billion in proposed tax hikes would be a heavy burden on Israelis.
Yacimovich vowed that the Labor party would be able to "meaningfully influence the management of the government," and fight the proposed budget cuts from within the ranks of the opposition.
Lapid on Monday said that the upcoming Knesset session slated to begin would be "contentious" because of the need to pass a budget.
Speaking at a meeting of his Yesh Atid faction, Lapid said that he saw the need to deal with the ballooning deficit as an opportunity to change Israel from "a culture of welfare payments to a culture of work."
Lapid attacked those that criticize his proposed budget cuts and tax raises stating that trumpeting help for the weak without saying where the help should come from was not policy and that "empathy cannot take the place of policy."
The finance minister confirmed that there was indeed both budget cuts and tax hikes on the horizon, but vowed that within two years every Israeli would feel the change - that he is living in a fair society, not a society of sectoral interests.
"Those who see the budget beyond populism will see it as a budget that brings hope. The pain will come and go," Lapid stated.