(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, 14 December 2008:

1. The Cabinet discussed the issue of government assistance to pension savings and decided to instruct the Finance Ministry Director of Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings to carry out – within six months – the actions necessary to lead to the reduction of the latent risk in the investment portfolios of savers near retirement age and of those who receive support payments.  The Cabinet also decided to protect savings funds of those who reach 60 by the end of the determining period and who meet various conditions. 

Prime Minister Olmert said: "Discussions on the issue have taken place in recent weeks, led by Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On and with the participation of the Bank of Israel and the Prime Minister’s Office.  The intention was to find the most correct and balanced solution.  This is not an easy issue.  There are other countries that concentrated mainly on protecting economic companies and sometimes those with major capital or who own stocks.  Our main concern is for the ‘small citizen’ who has saved his shekels over many years so that, upon reaching retirement age, he will be able to live with dignity.  From the outset, my intention – throughout the many consultations I held with Finance Minister Bar-On and Bank of Israel Governor Prof. Stanley Fisher – was to create a plan that enjoyed the broadest possible consensus.  This was because both the sensitivity of the issue and the need to provide such protection given the global economic crisis call for minimizing shocks to the stability of the Israeli economy.  On the one hand, we want to protect those who are saving towards their pensions.  On the other hand, we would like to minimize non-essential costs so that the Government can continue to meet its commitments.  There isn’t a single Government official  who doesn’t want to safeguard pension savers.  I reject out of hand the claim that there are people in the Finance Ministry, or elsewhere, who don’t care about these savers.  There were legitimate, professional disagreements.  In the end, we formulated a joint plan in coordination with the Bank of Israel and the National Economic Council, chaired by Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, as well as  the Finance Ministry under the leadership of Finance Minister Bar-On.  We submit to you today a balanced, serious and responsible plan."

Prime Minister Olmert paid tribute to all those Finance Ministry, Bank of Israel and National Economic Council officials who worked on the plan.  He especially thanked Finance Minister Bar-On, Bank of Israel Gov. Fisher and National Economic Council Chair Trajtenberg.

2. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel Police District Commander for Judea and Samaria Shlomo Katabi and other senior government officials briefed the ministers on the issue of law enforcement in Judea and Samaria, in accordance with Prime Minister Olmert’s conclusions on the issue at the November 2nd Cabinet meeting.

3. Transportation and Road Safety Minister Shaul Mofaz and senior Transportation and Road Safety Ministry officials briefed the ministers on the road safety campaign. 

4. The Cabinet noted the resignation of Minister Ami Ayalon. 

5. Prime Minister Olmert wished Public Security Minister Avi Dicter a happy birthday.

6. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert eulogized the late Aharon Dovrat. 

7. The Cabinet allocated NIS 13 million to assist students who were evacuated in the course of the Disengagement Plan in 2005, in addition to the NIS 22 million that was allocated in the previous academic year.  Due to the reduction in the number of student evacuees this academic year, a smaller sum is necessary. 

8. The Cabinet approved draft amendments to 2008 income tax legislation. 

9. The Cabinet approved draft legislation regarding Israel Broadcasting Authority annual licensing fees.