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Photo: Avihu Shapira
Moshe Kahlon
Photo: Avihu Shapira
Likud throws spanner into Kahlon’s budgetary works
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon once again faces opposition to his budgetary plan, as Likud legislators threaten to stymie its ratification in the absence of increased financial allowances for the disabled and elderly; ‘There are too many elderly and disabled people living below the poverty line.’

The Likud party threatened on Wednesday that if Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's financial plan does not contain increased allowances for the disabled, they will take measures to delay and even block it.

 

 

Kahlon's (Kulanu) plan includes granting tax credits worth hundreds of shekels to parents of small children, a move that will grant NIS 495 to parents who earn up to NIS 5,000 a month, subsidizing daycares and abolishing taxation imposed on imported cellular devices, footwear and baby clothes.

 

The Israeli central bank threw its support behind the plan, but said the measures should be made permanent to help the economy. 

 

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

The PMO expressed indignation over the fact that Kahlon presented his plan to the public without coordinating with—or even notifying—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beforehand.

 

Later, the PMO stated that despite their displeasure, it would weigh the plan positively.

 

Kahlon himself said that he is positive that his plan and all its points will be approved, and on Wednesday he even signed an order to abolish taxation imposed on cellular devices, cellphone batteries and SIM cards, which will take effect in May.

 

"We all know the real prices of these products abroad and will no longer accept the high prices being demanded here," Kahlon said after signing Wednesday's order. On Thursday he is also expected to sign the order to reduce prices of footwear and baby clothes.

 

The rest of the cost reductions require approval by the government and the Knesset.

 

MK Miki Zohar (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
MK Miki Zohar (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

 

The Likud, however, expressed strong reservations to Kahlon's plan, with MKs demanding that stipends for the disabled and elderly are increased by at least NIS 700 as part of the new budgetary plan.

 

During a Finance Committee hearing on the planned financial changes, MK Miki Zohar (Likud)—who serves as the coalition's coordinator in the committee—warned that he would delay Kahlon's plan as long as it does not meet his party's priorities.

 

Together with Coalition Chairman David Bitan (Likud), Zohar took bureaucratic steps to delay the plan by seeking the revision of all clauses thus far approved. As a result, about half of the Finance Ministry's budgetary orders have been delayed.

 

Coalition Chairman David Bitan (Knesset) (Photo: Knesset Spokesperson)
Coalition Chairman David Bitan (Knesset)

 

Zohar threatened to vote against any budgetary order filed to the Finance Committee if his party's demands are not met.

 

In a statement, while Miki congratulated Kahlon on his plan, saying that "It very well may improve our citizens' quality of life, and it is in everyone's best interest to aid in reducing the cost of living," he also raised his reservations about its apparent neglect for the disabled and elderly.

 

"Nonetheless, there are currently about 270,000 disabled people and 230,000 elderly people living below the poverty line. They are falling short of it by about 700-800 shekels. The funding required for that is between 3 to 4 billion shekels."

 

(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)

 

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