Gas firms slam PM's approval of Sheshinski conclusions

Energy companies say "decision will harm Israeli economy"; Eli Yishai says Shas will support tax hikes if gas profits go to welfare, housing.

Offshore Gas Drilling 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Offshore Gas Drilling 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Gas corporations on Wednesday reacted angrily to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to adopt the Sheshinski Committee's recommendation to raise taxes on gas and oil profits, reported Army Radio.
Energy companies are preparing to battle for Knesset member votes against the measure, saying: "This decision will prevent foreign investors from coming to Israel and will harm the Israeli economy."
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Interior Minister Eli Yishai on also reacted on Wednesday to the prime minister's decision, saying that Shas supports "in principle" the conclusions of the Sheshinski Committee, but practical support will come only on the condition that earnings from the gas and oil findings will be used for housing, welfare, the state medicine basket, and assistance for soldiers who've completed their mandatory army service.
Yishai also said he would like to know more about the education fund that Netanyahu promised to create from the gas profits.
Meanwhile, Finance Ministry Director Haim Shani called on Knesset members to approve the bill on the Sheshinski Committee recommendations as fast as possible.
Shani told Israel Radio that acknowledgment of the recommendations is a critical component of the gas project and the "rules of the game need to be advanced as soon as possible."
Following Netanyahu’s decision, the cabinet is expected to approve the Sheshinski Committee’s proposals at the end of the month. They would then need to be passed into law by the Knesset. The Finance Ministry expects the final vote to be held in mid- April.
Sharon Wrobel contributed to this report.