The Israel Transport Plan for a new national roads and railways network will be approved on Wednesday, but with an approved budget of only NIS 25-27 billion, about half of the original goal, believe senior officials in Jerusalem who are involved in preparing the plan.
The sources said that the cabinet is due to hold a special meeting on Wednesday, only to discuss the Israel Transport Plan. The sources added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to get a vote in favor of the plan.
The deal will be a compromise between Netanyahu's economic advisor and advocate of the plan, Ori Yogev, and the position of Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz. Under the compromise, the plan will be approved in full according to Yogev's expectations, but will receive only half the budget he requested, in line with Steinitz's demands. The budget will be spread over 8-9 years, instead of the original 15-year plan.
"The mechanism proposed by the prime minister is quite simple. What is ready to be built will be allocated a budget; what is not ready will be planned, and its fate will be decided later. Therefore, about NIS 20 billion will be allocated," said a source involved in the process.
The three main projects that will probably get underway immediately are the Jezreel Valley railway linking Hadera, Afula, and Beit She'an; the Acre-Carmiel railway, and the extension of Road 6 (the Cross-Israel Highway) to Kabri. The Ministry of Finance opposes the Jezreel Valley railway and proposes building a light rail link between Acre and Carmiel, instead of a regular railway line.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 21, 2010
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