Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich He was interviewed today (Wednesday) on Ben Caspit’s Vinon Magal program on 103FM, and he commented on the storm that broke out after the coalition funds were distributed to the ultra-Orthodox sector.
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“The ultra-Orthodox, the religious, are not part of the citizens of the state? They loot as if the state belongs to a certain sector, the Balfour protesters, and they are looted and given to others? This is perhaps a percentage of the state’s budget,” Smotrich claimed at the beginning of his remarks, “There is 99 percent of the budget that goes to education, higher education, Infrastructure, transportation. We are looting public funds and investing 150 billion NIS in the metro to the Gush Dan metropolis. We loot 26 billion and give it to the roads. Where does this ridiculous terminology come from?”.
“Every government has priorities and that’s how it is in a democracy. The government is allowed within its priorities, and it’s about a percentage, to strengthen settlement in the Negev, the Galilee, the Yosh, to strengthen Jewish identity, to correct long-standing discrimination in ultra-orthodox education budgets, to increase the yeshivot budget. Just as other governments were allowed to invest in other things that were important to them. At the end, there is the core of the budget, a great budget, encouraging growth, very responsible, very restrained,” he added.
Caspit: “Everything is allowed as you say, we say that you are looters and it is clear that the ultra-Orthodox are citizens of the state. On the other hand, also in your ministry and many other sources indicate that the index is double, the chief economist cuts the state’s income by 16 billion, lowers the growth forecast. Everyone warns that the allowances In addition to the regime reform, the ultra-Orthodox will have a hard time with the economy’s ability to recover. Why did you screw up the budget for a core? This is the future of the Israeli economy.”
Moshe Gafni (Photo: Dani Shem Tov, Knesset Spokesperson)
Smotrich: “You are a champion at making vegetable salad. I will start from the dimension, there is no doubt that inflation is our biggest challenge, we are trying very hard to do what we can, as much as we can reduce. We are making within this law of arrangements a series of reforms that are supposed to lower the cost The living. And I said and I say again – we will enter with all our might to break up the monopolies and centralization.”
Caspit: “Why did it come out of the Settlements Law? Why aren’t the monopolies there?”.
Smotrich: “It didn’t work out, there was one small section.”
Ben: “Doesn’t exist”.
Smotrich: “Ben, you have no idea what facts you are talking about. First of all, there is one important section in the field, which currently states that a large body with more than 300 million cannot merge with a body of more than 30 million to prevent the continuation of their creation The monopolies. There was one section that dealt only with a small portion of imports, we received responses to it from small producers. The thought was that it was not precise enough.”
Caspit: “These are excuses.”
Smotrich: “These are absolutely no excuses, you’re wrong. Preventing mergers is first of all preventing the formation of new monopolies. In order to break up the monopolies, you have to deal with all four vectors – the big producers, the big importers, the big distributors and the big chains. Since we introduced a reform that in our opinion is not was precise enough and could have caused damage, I said I didn’t want to do it for the sake of doing it. I don’t do what I don’t believe in. They form a team.”
Caspit: “The monopolies put pressure on you.”
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Smotrich: “None of the monopolies spoke to me or met with me, I do not know them and am not obligated to them – I am obligated solely to the citizens of the State of Israel. It was in the Settlements Law and it was not true enough and that’s why it came out. Why do I have to argue? I don’t have There is no point in arguing because the public will judge me in six months or a year, see what we do do and you will eat the hat. Let’s talk about the Economist’s report, it is simply a false framing, there is no media in Israel since the reform broke into our lives.”
“Overall, this is a good report, growth forecasts in Israel are still higher than the rest of the world,” he added, “All over the world, forecasts are now being updated downward, and there is an international comparison in this report that shows we are in a good place. The expected decrease in state revenues is insignificant. We took responsibility in this budget and we are so far from the deficit target. We knew we were in a period of economic uncertainty, we knew the US market was going to slow down. There will be no cuts, no tax increases. This budget is good and it will last until the end of 2024. Read the report, yes it describes global risks.”
Caspit: “There will be cuts.”
Smotrich: “There will be no cuts, there is no need for cuts. We have taken such large safety margins in the budget that even if there is a decrease of NIS 40 billion, I still do not need cuts.”
The Minister of Finance was then asked about the coalition funds, and replied: “There is 1.3 billion there for the Israel Police, there is there for the health system, yes there is there for settlement, the Negev and the Galilee, and for strengthening the Jewish identity of the State of Israel, and yes, there is also an increase in the Yeshiva budget. Even if it is less true economically, so what, a state does not only do what is good for the economy. The state has other values that it is important to promote.”
Bezalel Smotrich (photo: Noam Ravkin Fenton, Flash 90)
“Let’s talk about the core studies, even in this they are simply lying,” he claimed, “I didn’t determine it, for decades they determined the level of the ultra-Orthodox education networks, which is the equivalent of the state education, they study the core there. There are the recognized unofficial institutions, 55 percent budgeted Core and the exempt institutions that are budgeted for 55 percent. We didn’t touch it, we maintained the prioritization of the state systems, of core studies, but what happened? When the one hundred percent of the state education was one hundred, the exemption received NIS 55.”
“Over the years, the percentage of the state institutions increased to 200 NIS, but the 55 percent of the exemption remained 55 NIS. That’s why it became 24 percent. In total, we are returning it to 55 percent. Still keeping the prioritization of core studies. We introduced a new Ofek reform, instead of you saying it’s excellent, teachers in ultra-Orthodox education are finally being incentivized to acquire an education, get a teaching certificate, and gain seniority. It’s the first time that the ultra-orthodox public has agreed to transfer the teachers’ data to us,” said the Minister of Finance.
At the end, Smotrich said: “Why doesn’t what my kingdom deserves? Regardless of the question of core studies yes or no, which is critical, that’s why we give more incentive to those who study core, but what they haven’t done for 70 years and couldn’t do it by force, we won’t do This is also now. After all, we are talking about elementary education, where, as I said, in most ultra-Orthodox education, they learn the core. At the high school age, in the small yeshivots, we did not add money to them there. Enough with the demagoguery.
Caspit: “You added, doubled and also retro”.
Smotrich: “Absolutely not. Say it a thousand more times – you are lying and like you all your friends in the media who have lost all connection to the facts.”
Ben: There is a detached finance minister here, we heard.”
Assisted in the preparation of the article: Shani Romano 103FM