President declares that the Israeli public should not become the sacrificial lamb of the global economic crisis.
By GREER FAY CASHMAN
President Shimon Peres has joined the call for the government to establish a gradual safety net for savings and pensions.
Peres, who spoke to Israel Radio on the subject at the beginning of the week, went into greater detail on Monday during a visit to Ganei Tikva. He said it was heartbreaking to read that more than 70 percent of the public believed they would find themselves without pensions upon reaching retirement age and would be unable to make ends meet.
A former finance minister, Peres declared that the Israeli public should not become the sacrificial lamb of the global economic crisis.
"A person who has worked and saved all his life should not be put in the position of losing all his savings once he reaches an advanced age. His life should not have to become more difficult," he said.
The president urged top-ranking Treasury and Histadrut Labor Federation officials to sit down with business leaders to work out a viable safety plan that would provide an invincible guarantee against further erosion of savings and pensions.
Peres recalled that he had been prime minister during a previous economic crisis in the 1980s, when inflation was at an all-time high and the economy was in a state of despair. Experience, he said, had taught him that there was a solution for everything, and that if people thought hard enough, they would find a way to overcome.
The situation was too serious to ignore, he went on, saying it was incumbent on the various economic bodies to unite for the common cause.
The president stressed the need for social solidarity, asserting that the economy must be based on both social and moral concerns. He added that it was essential to focus on senior citizens and to protect their right to grow old with dignity.
"A responsible government cannot leave people in the lurch," he said.
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