Following are remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at the start of the Socio-Economic Cabinet meeting:
Prime Minister Netanyahu
"Tomorrow we will submit a balanced and responsible budget to the full Cabinet. I have passed over a dozen budgets in my tenure as Prime Minister and Finance Minister and I always see the same situation – everyone has demands. Demands always exceed what there is, but in the end the right decisions are made. We will do so this time as well.
The State of Israel will have a budget because otherwise it will not have a government and our economic and security situation would deteriorate. I trust the collective responsibility of our ministers. We will pass the budget in the full Cabinet tomorrow.
Secondly, we are convening the [Socio-Economic] Cabinet today to discuss a series of reforms that are important both for lowering the cost of living – a principal goal of this government – and ensuring future growth. Lowering the cost of living finds expression, first of all, in a series of reforms regarding the lowering of food prices. There is the ‘cornflakes reform’ that we are leading here at the Prime Minister’s Office, which will affect many food products on the market. We are also enacting changes in what is referred to as ‘housing supply’ to further increase the number of apartments in the State of Israel.
In the end this is the only way to lower prices. We are doing things to lower the cost of health services in the State of Israel such as supplementary insurance and private insurance. This will affect very many families regarding hundreds of shekels, which is not a small thing. We are also taking steps to advance the natural gas economy. First of all, we are linking factories to gas; what point is there to having gas if it cannot be utilized?
The reforms being proposed here touch on all these matters and many others as well. I think that Israel has seen fit to navigate its economic path with the policy we have led over many years and it did not fall into the pits into which other countries have fallen, some not far away from us. We must continue not only to avoid these pitfalls but to scale the heights. The budget, and what we are doing here today, are designed to achieve these goals – continued growth and the continued lowering of prices."
Finance Minister Kahlon
"As the Prime Minister said, today we will present genuinely significant reforms ahead of the budget tomorrow. I think that in recent years we have not seen reforms of this depth and magnitude. As the Prime Minister said, we have reforms in the banks and financial sector, the cost of living, food, removing impediments and lifting import quotas that have made things very difficult for consumers in the State of Israel. I have no doubt that we will receive the support of the ministers because – I reiterate what the Prime Minister said – this is a social and responsible, responsible and social, budget that truly puts people – the citizens of the state – in the center, alongside responsibility for economic growth, job creation, reduction of gaps, bringing the periphery closer to the center, infrastructures, housing and – of course – education."