PM Netanyahu: We Need Taxes to Pay for Defense (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Chana Ya´ar 04/01/12)
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered a polite but pointed
reality check at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday,
couched in his discussion of his last-minute decision Saturday night
with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to reduce a tax hike on gasoline.
The dreaded tax increase was scaled down after protests from
consumers – but Netanyahu warned the next day that taxes are needed
to maintain the country´s defenses, among other necessities of life
in a small country.
"For the fourth time within a year, we lowered taxes on gasoline,” he
said in remarks at the beginning of the government ministers´ meeting.
“I would like to make it clear – we do not control world gasoline
prices. The price of gasoline is rising all over the world, in all
countries. What we can do is to try and ease the burden on citizens
in a responsible and measured way, and this is what we are doing.
However, we are constantly maintaining the budgetary framework,” he
Netanyahu added that he and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz would
work on a deal to stabilize the situation without breaking consumer
pockets. However, he added, “whoever says that it is possible to
lower taxes and broaden expenditures without making an account lacks
economic knowledge and is irresponsible.”
The prime minister was blunt about the cost of life in Israel, and
why taxes are rising.
“We need the taxes in order to purchase additional Iron Dome
batteries, in order to complete work on the fence, in order to
finance free education for children, in order to pave highways and
build railways, in order to help the elderly and the needy,” he said.
Each Iron Dome missile fired to intercept a Grad Katyusha rocket
launched by Arab terrorists from Gaza at a major southern city costs
$50,000. That doesn´t include the price of the battery itself, nor
the price of the personnel to staff the batteries 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, and the cost of the skilled technicians who must
train those who monitor the radar. Last month, more than 200 rockets
were fired at southern Israeli communities – and nearly 50 Iron Dome
missiles were used to intercept direct attacks on major Israeli
population centers, each at a cost of $50,000.
However, Netanyahu added, it´s not all bad news. “In the past two
years – for the first time in many years – the poverty index has
begun to decline. The number of poor people in the State of Israel
dropped for the first time in years.”
Unemployment in the country is at its lowest since 1983, the prime
minister noted, despite the global economic crisis. Iron Dome
batteries are already deployed in Ashdod, Ashkelon and Be´er Sheva,
and an additional system is currently being tested in the Tel Aviv
area as well, with additional batteries being purchased.
"There is [also] the security fence along the Sinai border, and other
actions we are undertaking to increase security,” he added.
(IsraelNationalNews © 2012 04/01/12)
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