Olmert unveils new plan to fight poverty

Aims to reduce number of poor families by 60,000; Yacimovich: PM creating spin.

poor hungry people 88 248 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
poor hungry people 88 248
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Wednesday presented a new economic plan for fighting poverty, focusing on increasing employment opportunities. The aim of the plan is to get at least 60,000 families - some 240,000 people, including 115,000 children - out of the poverty cycle within three years, Olmert said. "The key to reducing poverty is increasing growth," Olmert said at a press conference, at which he and Finance Minister Avhraham Hirchson presented the main points of the government's social agenda for 2008-2010. According to the plan, the government will focus its energies on employment in the haredi and Arab sectors, as well as reducing the number of foreign workers and making the system of allocations more efficient. In response to the plan, Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich attacked Olmert, saying that it was a failed attempt by the prime minister and finance minister to divert public attention from the police investigations against both of them. "Prime Minister Olmert is trying to create media spin by using recycled ideas from the past, without any actual budget that would lead to action," she said. Former justice minister Avhraham Shochat, however, said that increasing employment opportunities as the plan proposed was a crucial condition for reducing poverty. "Creating new jobs is preferable to paying (unemployment) benefits and will bring about an improvement in the social situation," he said.