(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Yitzhak Herzog, National Economics Council Chairman Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, and Finance Ministry Director-General Yarom Ariav today (Wednesday), 18 April 2707, presented the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) socio-economic plan, the goal of which is to reduce poverty and encourage growth and employment. The plan, which has also been approved by the Bank of Israel, has guided the PMO’s activities in recent months and will serve as a guideline in formulating the 2008 state budget.

The PMO, in conjunction with the Finance Ministry, will accompany the various policy programs included in the socio-economic agenda that was presented, including – inter alia – plans to integrate the ultra-orthodox and the non-Jewish sector into the labor market, improve labor law enforcement and implement a negative income tax.

Prime Minister Olmert said: "This is the first time that the PMO is leading a move of such scope, based on a comprehensive view, while setting goals and advancing policy programs to be implemented over several years. Within three years, we intend to remove 242,000 people from the cycle of poverty. This includes assuring that 115, 000 children will live above the poverty line. All government ministries will cooperate in implementing the plan. The goal has been defined as ‘reducing poverty and encouraging growth’ because, first of all, we want to reduce inequality in Israel by promoting growth and employment."