Meretz pitches alternative budget

Opposition's budget would fund public housing, environmental projects, aid Arab industry; Finance Committee chairman Slomiansky demands government present plan to lower cost of living.

Zahava Gal-On
Meretz on Tuesday proposed an alternative 2015 state budget it said could increase state revenue by NIS 28.5 billion, lower the cost of living and solve the housing crisis.
“The Netanyahu government’s 2015 budget shows a lack of responsibility and leadership. It is a political budget written for electoral needs,” Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said.
“Meretz’s plan is an alternative that will allow the government to reach deficit targets without harming the middle and weaker classes.”
Gal-On called for MKs to “bravely stand up to the establishments that [Finance Minister] Lapid and [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu are afraid to confront: defense, the wealthy, giant corporations and settlements.”
Meretz’s plan is based on higher taxes on the rich and big businesses and reducing spending on defense and settlements, which the party says will “create sources of funding [and]... a broad budgetary base without harming the middle and weaker classes.” Plus, it would close the Holot holding facility for illegal migrants, saving NIS 0.5b., and charge a 10 percent inheritance tax on estates over NIS 2 million.
Israel abolished inheritance tax in 1981. Inherited assets are, however, subject to capital gains tax upon their sale.
The NIS 28.5b. brought in by the proposed changes is equal to the amount that would be spent on such things as public housing and aid to renters (NIS 7.3b.), development of industry and informal education for Arabs (NIS 1.5b.), encouraging projects involving renewable energy (NIS 0.55b.) and canceling all of the cuts to ministry’s that were instated after Operation Protective Edge (NIS 1.9b.), among other expenses.
The Meretz budget would expand the health basked by 2% (NIS 0.5b.), enact a national plan to aid victims of sexual abuse (NIS 38 million) and provide medical care and welfare to foreigners living in Israel without a cost to the state by requiring their employers to pay the same payroll tax as they would on Israelis’ salaries. In addition, it would open 800 daycare centers for 60,000 children (NIS 2.2b.) The alternative budget would require the government to take into consideration socioeconomic gaps and the poverty level.
Meretz faction chairman Ilan Gilon explained that the state budget shows a government’s priorities and that, although Lapid talks about new politics, he is recycling Netanyahu’s budgets from the past decade and a half.
“Milky isn’t the problem,” Gilon said, referring to the outrage over the high price of chocolate pudding in Israel compared to Europe. “The government has to give the public enough reasons to want to live here.
“Our budget restores the government’s responsibility for its citizens and dismantles the holy cows, sinkholes such as the defense budget, settlements and gifts to major companies that their subcontractor Netanyahu is afraid to touch,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Knesset Finance Committee plans to hold a meeting next week on the cost of living and rising prices of essential goods.
“The current situation is intolerable and immediate steps must be taken,” Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said on Tuesday.
“We will not stand silent while the average citizen has trouble making it through the month, and we demand that the government prepare an effective plan to lower the cost of living.”