Government approves new biennial budget

Government ministers approved Friday the budget for 2017-2018 which will include cuts of 4 billion shekels. The decision comes following overnight discussions and marks a stark increase in the cuts of 2 billion shekels introduced for 2016.

During the discussions a proposal put forth by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to tax owners of three or more apartments was approved.

Despite the treasury demands to significantly restrict the level of increase for the Education Ministry’s budget over the next two years, it was decided that it will receive 4.7 billion shekels meaning that the total budget for the ministry in 2017 will stand at 57 billion shekels. The original intention of the Finance Ministry was to allocate an additional 2 billion shekels only. Moreover, the increase alleviates fears of cuts that many suspected would lead to the dismissal of thousands of teachers.

The Ministry of the Environment also agreed with the Finance Ministry on Thursday night on a budget for a wide scale scrapping program of old diesel-fueled vehicles in order to reduce vehicular pollution. To this end, 260 million shekels will be allocated over the next two years.

In an effort to slash emissions from diesel-fuelled vehicles, especially from heavy vehicles such as trucks and busses, the program hopes rid Israel’s roads of around 80,000 old vehicles containing diesel engines.

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Owners of such vehicles will be able to bring them to the scrap and receive a government grant, the amount of which has yet to be determined, and will be able to install filters to help reduce air pollution emissions. The budget will also provide assistance to Israeli cities and create “clean air” locations where the entry of polluting vehicles will not be permitted.

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After the conclusion of the talks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “This is an important budget in which there is competition, reforms and development, the reduction of living costs as well as the reduction of gaps—an important goal for us.”

After thanking the relevant ministers for their work in producing the budget, the prime minister went on to say that the new budget would work to the “benefit of Israel’s economy, its citizens and for the good of the State of Israel.”

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