At the Knesset's opening meeting of the winter session on Monday, Minister of Finance Yair Lapid slammed the opposition for stymying the hook-up of natural gas, which he said was damaging the economy.
"An immediate hook-up to the gas pipeline will increase the number of jobs and further reduce the unemployment rate. Higher sales by these small and mid-sized enterprises will boost work and expand employment. An immediate hook-up to the gas pipeline will help lower the cost of living in Israel and lower electricity prices. Every Israeli who receives an electricity bill should know that we could have reduced it, but it isn't happening because the hook-up to the gas pipeline is stuck because of the opposition," he said.
"An immediate hook-up to the gas pipeline will result in exploration for more gas fields and the entry of more companies to the gas market. This will generate tens of billions in taxes, and this money will go to education, welfare, health, and will enable us to lower taxes. An immediate hook-up to the gas pipeline will not only grow the Israeli economy, but will bring this growth to middle class households in Israel. This hasn’t happened until now because the opposition has stymied the gas pipeline.
"The flow of natural gas for domestic use by factories, industry, and consumption by the Israeli economy, along with exports in balanced quantities, will generate $60 billion for the Israeli economy over the next 20 years. This will drive and the Israeli economy and make it grow, and bring this growth to middle class households in Israel. We will deposit this income in a public fund for gas profits, and with this money, we can provide better education, create a better health system, and better welfare services. All that the opposition had to do for this to happen was not to get in the way. But even that you did not do." Lapid was referring to the opposition-sponsored petition to the High Court of Justice to prevent gas exports.
Commenting on the situation at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA), Lapid that he spoke with the company's management, and expressed "my deep discomfort over the pending layoffs, and called on them to reconsider the decision and make every effort to minimize the number of layoffs.
"I told Teva's management that their relations with Israel were reciprocal. Previous governments gave Teva and other companies large tax breaks. I am disquieted by these tax breaks, and had I been finance minister at the time, different decisions would probably have been taken, and it should be noted that we are now, at my order, in tough negotiations with Teva on the issue of trapped profits and the tax breaks. I told its management that the tax breaks that were given oblige it to listen to what we have to say on the matter.
"Teva CEO Jeremy Levin promised me that no decision had yet been taken about layoffs in Israel. Teva has 47,000 employees worldwide, 10% of whom will be fired, but the layoffs will not be equal in every country, so there is no basis to the number of 800 layoffs mentioned at this dais, and no one in Teva's management knows where these figures came from."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 15, 2013
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