Smotrich at the beginning of his faction's meeting: "The decisions of the outgoing government led to an increase in prices" (Knesset Channel)
Hello to the new Minister of Finance of the State of Israel, Bezalel Smotrich.
After two exhausting months of negotiations and statements about a "Jewish economy" in the ultra-Orthodox press (if we keep the Torah and mitzvot - there will be financial abundance), Smotrich entered his office. On Sunday, two matters were on his desk: the increase in electricity prices and the abolition of taxation on disposable utensils and sugary drinks Guess what he chose to do?
Sunday's price jumps are alarming at least twice. First, a jump in prices that complements the 22% increase in electricity prices from the beginning of 2022, increases our average monthly electricity bill by NIS 1,000 per year. Does that sound a little to you? Probably you Not half the trampling of the workers in Israel who earn less than NIS 6,000 per month. And that's not all. The increase in electricity prices immediately leads to an increase in the prices of water and property taxes. And immediately after that to another jump in food prices. On Sunday, several large food companies announced increases of up to 25% in prices the products.
Statements about "Jewish economy".
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Photo: Reuven Castro)
These increases also led the Bank of Israel to use its main tool to curb inflation, interest rate increases.
The Bank of Israel announced yesterday a seventh consecutive increase.
From 0.1% last April, the interest rate has already risen to 3.75%.
The meaning for more than a million mortgage payers in Israel?
A jump of about NIS 1,000 a month to the average mortgage amount.
And these are the dry data.
The thing that worries no less, and even more, is the conduct of the political system and the government regarding the cost of living crisis.
After promises to the majority in the election campaign, the issue was completely abandoned in the exhausting two months of forming the government.
The detailed coalition documents concern the weakening of the justice system, the supervision of educational programs, unique budgets for ultra-Orthodox education and religious education, the amendment of anti-discrimination laws, and much more.
The promises to freeze prices and a determined fight against rampant inflation.
When the Minister of Finance began his week he had a very urgent need to immediately cancel the taxation on disposable utensils and sugary drinks.
He chose to promote a move that benefits the manufacturers of drinks and disposable utensils and mainly harms our health and environment.
The ease with which this is done is very worrying.
It was possible to expect an orderly process: to create alternative moves in education to reduce sugar consumption and to switch to reusable utensils.
to subsidize and promote the alternatives.
It didn't happen, because our politics became a "finger in the eye" of the opposing political camp.
More in Walla!
Smotrich in the first decision: the tax on disposable utensils and sweet drinks will be abolished
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Harmful to the environment and health.
Disposable waste (Photo: Reuven Castro)
We will return to the increase in electricity prices.
Global comparisons show that our electricity is not one of the most expensive in the western world.
So say: there is no choice, the war in Ukraine, etc.
It turns out that negligence and government incompetence led to increases in electricity prices, which include a jump in prices throughout the economy.
The increase came because of a spike in coal prices.
We are, as you know, princesses of natural gas to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
So why are we so affected by coal prices?
Because government moves and decisions to convert coal-burning power plants to natural gas simply did not materialize.
Last July, the move to switch to blue-white natural gas, much cheaper and much less polluting, was supposed to be perfect.
The previous government failed to implement its own decisions.
The political chaos has hit us all again.
Death sentence for the elderly and at-risk populations.
An elderly woman looking for food in the garbage (Photo: Flash 90, Nati Shochat)
All of this could have been a troubling financial story and nothing more than "we'll shrink and manage".
For hundreds of thousands of families in Israel who live in poverty and food insecurity, this is a horrific story.
In the middle of winter, they may suffer from terrible power outages.
The decision of the Electricity Authority to limit the lagging families in electricity consumption to about two-thirds of the average consumption is a decree: it is necessarily less heating.
In extreme cases, it is a death sentence for the elderly and at-risk populations.
This struggle cannot fall on civil society.
This struggle does not belong only to the periphery.
It is a struggle for all of us.
For the possibility of living with dignity in one of the rich countries in the West that has lost its compass and conscience, social responsibility and the correct order of priorities.
And also about Jewish values that emphasize the obligation to build safety nets for the entire population.
If you are going for economics in Jewish values, Mr. Smotrich, you should take the essence and not the marginal and mystical.
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