Bar-On presents economic boost plan

Finance minister urges MKs to "show courage," approve NIS 22 billion plan before elections.

bar on economic plan 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
bar on economic plan 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On presented Israel's economic stimulus plan to the socio-economic cabinet and to the general public on Wednesday. The 22 billion shekel stimulus plan includes numerous changes to the Israeli market and increased governmental investment in infrastructures, Army Radio reported. "The economic stimulus plan is vital to the market," Bar-On said on Wednesday. The finance minister asked his political opponents overcome political disagreements and approve the economic bailout plan ahead of the national elections. However, he did not promise to provide a safety-net for pension funds, a measure that the Histadrut has set as a condition for its support of the plan. The 22-billion-shekel plan entails government investments in infrastructure, transportation and construction. New public transportation lines will be established, 500 classrooms will be opened in 2009, and the road maintenance and tourism funds will be increased. According to Bar-On, the treasury's stimulus plan focuses on expanding employment in Israel. "According to our calculations, the plan will create thousands of new jobs for lawyers, teachers, secretaries, construction workers, welders and locksmiths," the minister said. "I hope the members of Knesset demonstrate political courage and will support the plan to accelerate the market, or we will pay a high price. If decisions are not made we will face the danger of a severe recession until a new government is formed," he told reporters at a Jerusalem press conference. The finance minister called on stock market investors to be responsible and asked employers to fire employees only if completely necessary. Bar-on also said he would work to speed up the fortification plan for Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip. The Likud Party slammed the economic stimulus plan presented by Bar-On and defined it as a "small plan for a big crisis." The small measures presented by the treasury are not relevant to the heart of the problem as they do not include a safety net for pension savings and do not include real measures to prevent the high unemployment rates, the Likud said in a statement. Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini said that Bar-On's plan did not offer a sufficient solution, and threatened that the Histadrut "will have no choice and will go out to fight" if the plan is approved and implemented as it stands. Eini said he will wait for the meeting with the head of the Treasury in the Finance Ministry, Ram Belnikov. "We hope we will be proven wrong and that the Treasury will convince us that the plan is good," Eini said.