Liberman says Israel 'facing world's mildest price hikes' amid mounting criticism

As unbridled core inflation continues stripping out buying power of Israeli families, finance minister downplays rising gas and electricity costs, slams food companies for 'cynically exploiting' situation to turn a profit

Moran Azulay|
Israel is facing the mildest price increases in the world, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Monday in response to mounting furor as the Israeli economy is seeing substantial price hikes across the board, with food, gas and electricity prices all experiencing upward pressure.
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  • Liberman's statement comes fresh on the heels of reports that electricity prices would rise by 5.7% the following day instead of 4.9% as expected due to rising coal prices worldwide. In addition, the Energy Ministry announced the steepest single-month hike in gas prices in more than seven years would come into effect that same day.
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    Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman
    Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman
    Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman
    (Photo: GettyImages)
    "When we're talking about electricity, in the UK [prices went up] 34% and in Sweden, it's 35%. We can't just write off rising crude oil prices, currently around $87-88 per barrel. I think it’s the highest in decades," Liberman said at a faction meeting of his Yisrael Beitenu party.
    "Gas is also up 87% and ocean freight costs are up 640% since the start of the pandemic. [Prices] are rising all around the world, and here it’s the most moderate and the economy is running.”
    But regarding food prices, the 63-year-old doubled down on allegations he voiced against food companies in a letter he co-signed with Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai, saying he "will not let the situation be exploited cynically."
    Liberman argued that manufacturers and importers were in good shape and vowed to take action if they don’t explain the price hikes by the end of the day.
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    Customers at a supermarket in central Israel
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    When asked about whether the government was weighing lowering taxes, Liberman said the administrative branch was working in concert to draw up a “series of steps” that would be decided over the next 7-10 days.
    “I have no intention of acting extemporaneously. I believe in thorough groundwork and when we're ready, we'll announce it," he said.
    Liberman also said that the state will funnel nearly NIS 600 million ($188 million) into the economy to help businesses that suffered from the country's COVID-19 outbreak. He is set to meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid Monday evening to discuss further handouts.
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