Steinitz: It's irresponsible to talk about tax hikes

In an interview with "Globes," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz reiterates that there are no plans to raise taxes.

In an interview with "Globes" Minister of Finance was asked about criticism of his policies by some of his senior officials. He said, "Anonymous officials are not something I intend responding to. Policy is set by the finance minister with the backing of the prime minister. So these matters are irrelevant. We know the data and we've handled it in advance."

Senior officials in the ministry of finance have said it is not responsible of you to say there won't be tax hikes

"I've heard the senior officials talking in the media. They spoke using their names and what they said was correct. Maybe there are some junior officials who for their own reasons, perhaps personal reasons, say things anonymously or secretly. I don't want to talk about them. If somebody wants to speak using his name and present matters and views then he will get answers and facts. Whoever hides behind anonymity does not interest me."

Former senior officials that worked with you have stood up and had things to say against you.

Steinitz said, "We don't stop anyone from talking. In the end and in the test of results and compared with the western world, we…."

If somebody weighs 180 kilograms and the second person weighs 150 kilograms that's no reason to celebrate

We give true figures. The situation worldwide is known, and we are in the best possible situation. We, in contrast to the rest of the world, have lowered unemployment and added jobs. Those are facts."

You're not prepared to understand that the public is very worried about what will have in the current circumstances? The public are not really consoled by what is happening to the Americans, British or French.

Steinitz said, "The public must hear and know the truth. We live in a globalized world. Problems affect everyone but our situation in relation to the world is improved and incomparable. I repeat and say this again and again and if people are not prepared to hear this for their own reasons that doesn't make it not true."

Will there not be tax hikes?

"That's true. There are no plans to raise taxes. I repeat and say this again. There is no plan to add taxes and any talk otherwise is irresponsible. We will have to cut NIS 14 billion and we were committed to do this even if there wasn't a deficit. The need for cuts related to the Law for Limiting Expenditure."

Maybe you are not taking the 4.2% budget deficit seriously enough?

"I take everything that is important and critical seriously. In 2009 we had a deficit of 5.3% and we coped with it successfully. Despite the cuts that we were compelled to make, we succeeded in investing more money than was necessary in education, higher education, and there is already an improvement, also in highways, railways and developing the Galilee and the Negev, and the security fence."

Your descriptions tend to be on the rose colored of life. Aren't you exaggerating

"I tell the truth. Only the truth. The challenge is hard, really not simple. But we are doing things right and successfully. It is a fact that up to now we have been more successful than others, and nobody can cast a doubt on that."

Steinitz continued, "There are those doing some spin and those who have no limits to the lies that they will tell. Yes lies. I listen to Shelly Yachimovich the lies she tells are of the kind told by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. She talks, repeats and reiterates about widening gaps. But the index on inequality, the Gini coefficient, has improved for the present. She says that the Netanyahu government lets the Dead Sea Works earn illogical profits except that the truth is that it was the Labor government when it was in power that gave the Dead Sea Works generous exemptions worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually, and I am the first finance minister who has cancelled the Dead Sea exemptions. I've doubled the royalties and mandated them to pay 95% of the cost of salt harvesting. Overall, in my term of office, every year the state receives an extra NIS 1 billion from the Dead Sea that it took in previous years."

Yachimovich also faces elections very soon

OK. That's clear but why make up lies? I hear Ms. Yachimovich declare that because the middle class have been hit, growth in Israel is very low. The answer and fact is that there was no hit to the middle class and growth in Israel is the highest among all the countries that Ms. Yachimovich so much wants us to be like. I can understand half-truths but such crude lies is something unprecedented. And what is most annoying are the th9ings heard in the media, and many people know the truth, but there is no balance to the contempt."

What do you expect?,

I expect that if serious people interview Yachimovich they will ask her about the findings of the World Bank and OECD that reported that Israel has the highest growth in the west."

People are talking about who will replace you as the next Finance Minister

"Last time too exactly the same journalist who came out with today's headlines appointed three others as certain candidates to become minister of finance and I wasn't among them. So he can carry on writing as he fancies."

Your being replaced is spoken of in other places

"It's baseless talk. Just talk."

Has Benjamin Netanyahu, on the assumption that he will form the next government, told you that you are his candidate for finance minister?

"I won't answer that. To be more accurate I'm not allowed to respond."

Why doesn't the prime minister express public support for you in these frenzied days?

"I'm completely at ease on this matter."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 16, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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