'Netanyahu to appoint c'tee to examine tax burden'

Ahead of major housing protest, PM reportedly planning to seek ways to decrease tax burden on general public, MK Akunis tells Army Radio.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 311 (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 311
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was expected to put together a team to examine the burden of indirect taxes on the public in the coming days, Army Radio reported on Saturday. The expected move comes ahead of nationwide protests scheduled to take place Saturday night, the second mass protest in as many weeks.
Speaking with Army Radio Saturday, Netanyahu ally Likud MK Ophir Akunis said that "the government is attentive to public sentiment and is working to ease the [financial] burden on the public."
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Akunis added that the government would also like to find a way to improve conditions for working mothers. On Wednesday, thousands of mothers staged a "stroller protest" in Tel Aviv over the cost of raising children in Israel, which prompted a legislative proposal by MK Dalia Itzik to provide free daycare for children under the age of five, as well as a proposal to provide discounts on public transportation for mothers traveling with children in strollers.
Netanyahu and senior cabinet members on Tuesday unveiled a wide-ranging program to tackle the housing crisis, promising to improve the situation of young people, students, demobilized soldiers and the homeless.
The linchpin of the “affordable housing plan,” the removal of barriers to planning and to the sale of land for housing, will be completed by the end of next week, Netanyahu said.

He also promised a discount on the price of land for construction, new apartments for long-term rental at reduced cost, and 10,000 new dormitory units for students.

The plan, put forward amid growing protests across the country against the price of housing and the cost of living, drew criticism from opposition leaders and MKs.

Kadima‘s Tzipi Livni said Netanyahu was acting to bring down the protest tents that have been erected across the country when he should be working to build houses.

“Instead of changing economic policies and managing those bodies under [his control], Netanyahu is shirking responsibility, continuing to spread slogans that won’t solve the social problems and lessen the burden of young people and the state of building in Israel,” Livni said.

“Netanyahu doesn’t understand that the problem isn’t technical, but fundamental.

Labor leadership candidate Isaac Herzog said “Netanyahu’s plans will never be implemented, just like all of his others haven’t been, including the train to Eilat.” The public, he said, “doesn’t buy his promises.”

Fellow candidate Amram Mitzna said “Netanyahu once again proved that he is very good at explaining things but does not know how to get the country out of the mud.”

Much of the prime minister’s plan to solve the housing crisis will be implemented in the relevant ministries, however a number of bills will have to be passed in order to make the reforms possible.

Netanyahu’s national building and planning committees bill, which is meant to circumvent bureaucracy in the construction process, is likely to pass with the coalition’s support when it is brought to a vote in the Knesset next Monday.

Gil Hoffman, Ben Hartman and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report