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Finance Minister Yair Lapid
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Lapid: Economic policy will protect working class
Addressing budget plan, finance minister stresses he will promote interests of working class; justice minister urges resumption of peace talks
Finance Minister Yair Lapid disclosed Tuesday parts of his economic plan for 2013-2014. Speaking at a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, Lapid said that impending budget cuts would amount to some NIS 18 billion (roughly $5 billion) and that tax hikes would reach some NIS 8 billion ($2.2 billion).

 

Regarding criticism he had leveled Monday on the economic policies of the previous government and the high deficit it reached in 2012, Lapid said that though he had every intention of working to recover the economy, he had no intention of slandering his predecessor in the Finance Ministry "and blame him for everything that happened. I don’t care whose fault it is. I care what we do next."

 

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As for economic reforms the treasury intends to instate, the minister noted that changes will be made to protect the working class, including adapting housing subsidiaries to benefit people who are employed.

 

"If housing benefits are given according to the number of children in a family and discriminate against people who went to the army and who are working, then we've sacrificed the workers, and we are about to change that.

 

"If daycare costs a working mother 1,000 shekels more than it does for another mother who does not work, then we've been sold," he said.

 

The finance minister further stated that negotiations with the Defense Ministry regarding cuts of approximately $1 billion a year to the defense budget were in progress, and that "As opposed to common myths, the defense establishment has been understanding and open" in regards to the cuts it will face.

 

"I've been having meetings with the defense minister and the IDF chief of staff and they both realize that we are facing a different economic reality," Lapid added.

 

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni also spoke at the INSS conference and addressed the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, saying: "We must realize that once we reach an agreement, we will have recognized borders of a country that will receive international legitimacy. Then we will be able to maintain the Jewish, democratic nature of the State of Israel."

 

Livni added that "after four years of stalemate in the talks, accompanied by complete distrust between the sides, we must start real negotiations and stop casting blame over who's to blame for the stalemate.

 

Yoav Zitun contributed to this report

 

 

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