Netanyahu warns against fiscal irresponsibility

PM rejects Barak's idea that deficit should be enlarged to deal with social justice needs and defense needs.

Netanyahu 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Netanyahu 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday slammed his detractors and social justice protesters, saying that they "talk only about dividing the pie and not about making it bigger."
Speaking at the Globes Israel Business Conference in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu added, "If you only deal with division, very quickly you will be left with only crumbs. I am telling you that I deal with the question of making the pie bigger. By the way, with a growing pie, the distribution is better."
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Netanyahu said that Israel needs a new approach in order to continue strong economic growth – beginning with a renewed push of exports to emerging markets.
The prime minister contended that the global economy would stall in the near future, and said Israel needed to concentrate its efforts on reaching new markets in China, India, Brazil and elsewhere.
“In my opinion, any Israeli who wants to go to China should go. Why? Because it’s a massive, growing market, and if we obtain even a small portion of it, we can increase our exports massively…we must increase the size of the pie,” he said.
In addition to Asia, Latin America and Africa, the Israeli economy must also take advantage of emerging markets inside its own borders, Netanyahu said, referring to the Galilee and the Negev. He said the development of transportation infrastructure leading in both directions, and the implementation of housing reforms, would create a new vehicle for growth.
The third new vehicle for growth, he said, would be through development of key industries, namely water, agriculture, space and cyber. If Israel successfully combines these three approaches, then “the sky is the limit,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu was adamant that the deficit should not be enlarged, as Defense Minister Ehud Barak has suggested in his calling for the fulfillment of the demands of the social justice movement and adding money for the defense budget.
The prime minister appeared to be backing Finance Minister Yuvakl Steinitz in his ongoing battle with Barak over the defense budget. In recent weeks, Steinitz has publicly called for a lower and more transparent defense budget, which Barak has rejected.
"The defense establishment has needs, but it must be efficient, and part of this is connected to transparency. We need more transparency," Netanyahu stated. "In the coming weeks we will make a decision - I say we should not increase spending but still provide for security and Trajtenberg, and that is possible to do. "
In order to strengthen the private sector, he said, his government would soon propose a bill based on recommendations made by the Trajtenberg Committee – which dealt with over-concentration within industries, and by the Committee on Strengthening Market Competitiveness – which dealt with cross-ownership between the financial and non-financial sectors.
 Some European nations are suffering today because of over-regulation, while others are suffering because of under-regulation, the prime minister said. He named the main challenge for his government as striking the right balance between competition and regulation, as “we want the horse to race between them.”