Peres welcomes Treasury initiative on developing peripheral communities

President Shimon Peres has welcomed a Treasury initiative to give preferential status to peripheral communities. Peres was informed of the decision by Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On and State Budgets Director Ram Belinkov. The economic policy for 2009 contains within the framework of the Peripheral Communities Preferential Status Declaration a clause outlining a program of advancement for peripheral communities. Peres expressed particular satisfaction that the decision came from the Treasury itself and was not the result of pressure from other government ministries. On this basis, said Peres, it has a much better chance of being implemented. Peres has served as minister for the development of the Galilee and the Negev, and maintains an abiding interest in the welfare of the country's northern and southern communities. Bar-On said the growth potential of peripheral communities is enormous and can be beneficial to the economy as a whole. "The government has a responsibility to exploit this potential to the maximum," he said. The program includes plans to improve education, industry, local authority services, employment and infrastructure. It also aims to increase the population in the north by 370,000 residents by 2020 and the population in the the south by 336,000 in the same time frame. Additionally, it aims to create 220,000 new jobs in the north and 136,000 in the south. Improvements will begin with the development of existing industrial areas and the construction of new ones so as to create at least 7,000 new jobs between 2009-2012, the establishment of mass transport systems which will shorten travel time to the center of the country, and the development of tourist facilities. Peres, who helped raise billions of dollars for the Palestinian economy, has offered his expertise for the project