(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, this morning (Wednesday), 19 November 2008, attended a meeting of the Socio-Economic Cabinet, which was devoted to the Finance Ministry’s economic stimulus plan, and made the following remarks at the start of the meeting:

"As you know, the economic crisis began in the US and has spread around the world. Israel prepared for this crisis without knowing that it would break out.  We managed the Israeli economy in a responsible, considered and cautious fashion, which assured both its growth and its stability, and brought it to unprecedented peaks. Now, our starting point in dealing with the crisis is better and, in my estimation, Israel will be able to meet the challenges posed by this crisis in a way that minimizes the damage and the consequences.

Since the outbreak of the economic crisis, we have acted responsibly: We have monitored developments on a daily basis and have achieved maximum coordination between the Finance Ministry, the Bank of Israel and the Prime Minister’s Office. I said yesterday and I say now: My chief priority is the ordinary citizen. We, in the Government, are obligated to assure his future and his position. We are similarly obligated to assure the future growth of the Israeli economy.

Today, the Finance Ministry is proposing a series of measures and policies that must be implemented. There are those who would like to add other measures and they will be considered in keeping with developments. In any case, there is no place for hysteria. 

The economic crisis will not wait until after the elections and we must deal with it here and now, responsibly, and without being dragged into election economics."

Following the subsequent discussion, Prime Minister Olmert added: "There is general agreement that the plan is right; I approved the measures that Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On submitted to me on Sunday because I think that the direction is correct. There is the possibility of a deal that also includes pension funds. This should be considered on condition that the budget is passed – as it was approved by the Government. 

It must be pointed out that we must act responsibly and not hinder the approval of the plan. First and foremost, we must see the needs of the economy and of the people, without getting into irrelevant considerations."