Fischer: Middle class living standards rising

In presenting the Bank of Israel's 2011 Annual Report, Stanley Fischer said the economy was in good shape, but not great shape.

The condition of Israel's middle class has improved in recent years, and the standard of living has risen, said Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer at a press conference to mark the publication of the central bank's Annual Report for 2011.

"A person who wants to work can find work," said Fischer.

He added, "The economy is in good shape, but not great shape. Why isn't it great? Mainly because of the global economic situation, which began to deteriorate during 2011. We saw the effect of the crisis in Europe on the level of our exports."

Fischer repeatedly mentioned the cost of living and Israel's middle class. Yesterday, "Globes" reported that the Ministry of Finance is seeking alternatives to the pending gasoline price hike at midnight on Saturday, such as raising taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. Fischer said, "To play around with indirect taxes, which is what they are doing with gasoline, is not good. Small adjustments are not good. It's not smart and it's not good to be too clever, and to change things every day."

Commenting on bank fees, which have drawn criticism as part of the social protest, Fischer said, "In the past 3.5 years, bank fees have fallen by an average of 17%. That's quite a lot. This pressure will continue from the supervisor of banks, but it's not possible to demand that all the fees should be reduced. We need profitable banks so that they can continue to extend credit. The banks are public companies and their ability to raise capital and lend money depends on their performance."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 28, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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