Adding fuel to the fire

MKs to debate "high" gasoline taxes at special Knesset session; Kadima submits bill that would prevent gov't from "disproportional taxation of fuel" to raise more money for Treasury.

311_Yuval Steinitz (photo credit: Tamar Matsafi)
311_Yuval Steinitz
(photo credit: Tamar Matsafi)
Less than one week before the Knesset officially reconvenes for a brief Summer Session, parliamentarians were set to hold a special plenum session Wednesday that focused on the government’s economic policies.
Opposition members planned to go on the attack against both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the government as a whole for a general increase in prices, especially for gasoline, whose cost has become a popular issue in recent months, among both coalition and opposition factions.
Kadima has spearheaded a number of public protests – most recently last Friday in Tel Aviv – seeking to amplify popular calls for the government to intervene and rein in rising fuel costs. The party launched a campaign with the slogan “It’s not Gaddafi – it’s Bibi: Over 50% of the gas price is taxes!”
MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) has submitted a bill that would limit gasoline taxes to 30% of the price at the pump, which, Hasson said, would return the cost of fuel to a “reasonable” level.
Under its provisions, any additional taxes would require the Treasury to obtain special permission from the Knesset Finance Committee. The bill, Kadima explained, would prevent the government from using “disproportional taxation of fuel as a means of raising more money for the Treasury’s coffers.”
Fuel prices are expected to be on the agenda of the Finance Committee’s first meeting of the Summer Session, and its members will likely call on Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to reduce the taxes.
In the two months since Prime Minister Netanyahu made a dramatic announcement that he would work to cut fuel costs, prices have risen by over 8%.
“The price is indeed very high,” Steinitz admitted earlier this week in an interview on Army Radio. “It is important to remember that we are running an entire economic policy, and it cannot always be split into small change.”
According to the Hebrew-language financial daily Globes, Israel has yet to reach the world’s top 10 countries for the price at self-service pumps, but is getting close. It already ranks 12th, following only Western European states.