The Finance Ministry is opposing a private member's bill that would require all local authorities and municipalities to hire inspectors who would devote most of their time to enforcing no-smoking laws in public spaces and workplaces, even though this could earn the authorities an estimated NIS 450 million bonanza a year, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Instead of only 3,200 fines handed out by all the local authorities last year, the bill - proposed by Likud MK Gilad Erdan - is expected to increase the annual number to 90,000. Anti-tobacco sources said the bill would be a boon to public health and boost cash-starved municipalities. Asked why they thought the Treasury opposed the proposed legislation, the sources suggested that the Finance Ministry "does not like the idea of local authorities generating so much money on their own." The Treasury uses allocations of funds to the cities and towns to exercise its power, they said. Similarly, they said, the Treasury opposes an automatic two percent annual increase in the basket of health services, instead requiring Health Ministry officials to come hat in hand to Treasury budgets division officials. Erdan's bill states that the municipalities and local authorities would have to hire inspectors who would spend most of their time giving fines for smoking illegally in public spaces and workplaces. Today, most inspectors work primarily in food establishment and other places and have little time (or initiative) for giving NIS 310 tickets to smokers. The Finance Ministry had no comment by press time.