Steinitz rejects alleged role in Carmel fire

Finance minister says there is "a little confusion" about the role of Finance Ministry in national affairs.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Herzliya Conference_390 (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Herzliya Conference_390
(photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz responded to a reportedly scathing report of his role in 2010's disastrous Carmel Fire, saying Wednesday there may be "a little confusion" about the role of the Treasury and its minister.
"My job is to safeguard the economic strength of the State of lead economic policy, facilitate growth and to bring about investment in the economy," Steinitz said during his address to the 12th Annual Herzliya Conference. "There was a little confusion about the nature of my responsibilities and the functions of the Finance Ministry."
The finance minister refused to address State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s report on the Carmel Fire, saying he had not yet read it. Leaks of that report suggest that Lindenstrauss will recommend Steinitz along with Interior Minister Eli Yishai to resign from their posts for negligence that exacerbated the disastrous blaze.
Lindenstrauss reportedly blamed Steinitz for failing to transfer adequate funds to the state meteorological  and firefighting services in the weeks before the fire.
The finance minister on Wednesday, however, was adamant that his office has been successful, touting Israeli successes in the face of global recession.
The success of Israel is evident in its low unemployment, Steinitz said adding that the average "salary, compared to the US and Europe, went up in 2011 and 2012."
Steinitz said Israel's low unemployment was having a positive effect on the economic situation of the nation's families and citizens.
The finance minister pointed out that Israel's credit rating, if included in a list of Western European countries, was the only credit rating to go up in the same period that most European countries saw their credit ratings dropped.
Steinitz also said he was pleased with Israel's debt-to-GDP ration, which was hovering around 74 percent.
"We managed to decrease it," he said. "We preserved our position at a time when very few countries were able to do that."