(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today (Thursday), 29 July 2004, directed senior Finance Ministry officials to adapt the state budget to four major objectives:

1. Advancing reforms: The continuation of the macro-economic policy and reforms that will continue economic growth and efficiency;

2. Advancing the government’s diplomatic-security goals: Funds will be budgeted for advancing the disengagement plan, continuing construction of the security fence and improving the fabric of life, as determined in the 30 June 2004 High Court of Justice ruling on the route of the fence;

3. Advancing social goals: Funds will be budgeted for weaker strata and the elderly; the Prime Minister directed the Finance Ministry to further broaden their proposal to assist the elderly.  The Dovrat Report will be advanced, immigration absorption will be strengthened and funds will be allocated to the periphery.  The Prime Minister directed that the needy be assisted in rent payments and in purchasing flats in the periphery;

4. Encouraging employment in Israel – the Prime Minister directed the Finance Ministry to find stable solutions for encouraging employment.