Histradut warns of strike over tax plan

Eini says Bar-On's proposal has forced work dispute; opposition MKs: Plan is an electioneering maneuver.

bar on and olmert 224 (photo credit: Channel 10)
bar on and olmert 224
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Histadrut Labor Federation chief Ofer Eini threatened a general strike on Thursday, after declaring that Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On's plan to cut some taxes while raising others had created a work dispute. Bar-On announced plans on Wednesday to gradually reduce income taxes for individuals and companies over seven years starting in 2009, and at the same time, to abolish tax exemptions on long-term saving schemes for vocational training programs. In response, opposition Knesset members accused the finance minister of "election economics." Meretz leader Haim Oron said he did not understand why the Finance Ministry was insisting on NIS 10 billion in budget cuts while lowering taxes, the source of funding for that same budget. "Bar-On is making sure that the haves have more and the have-nots have even less," Oron said. "The stench of elections reeking from the plan raises the question of whether its goals for the economy of 2015 can be determined by a government that might not even survive beyond the 15th of the month." Likud MK Reuven Rivlin said the plan was intended solely for elections and that the next government would suffer its consequences. "It is impossible to escape the feeling that making such an announcement at a time when the political situation is so foggy is not intended just for professional reasons," Rivlin said. Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich said Bar-On's decision would deepen the gaps between rich and poor. The tax cuts would only be felt by the higher brackets and would not reach poor, exploited workers, she said. Shas officials said Bar-On should have raised child welfare allowances instead. Bar-On responded at his press conference that the new plan and all the policies he recently enacted were "the opposite of election economics.