The heads of the Coordinating Council of Economic Organizations in Israel today held a press conference in Jerusalem declaring that they have decided to draft an alternative economic plan, which they will present soon to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Finance Minister Silvan Shalom.
The council, headed by Manufacturers Association president Oded Tyrah, attributed its decision to the business sector's crisis of faith in the government's emergency economic plan, and to concerns that implementing the plan would result in a socio-economic crisis and consequently in a security crisis that would damage Israel's strength.
Tyrah said that the economy is in its worst crisis in Israel's 54 years of existence, and that the business sector is unable to withstand the increased tax burden decided on by the cabinet. Tyrah said the government's economic plan will increase the number of jobless to 300,000 (February's figure was 262,000). He added that the plan would result in gross domestic product dropping by 2%, and that this would widen the deficit, and result in interest rates rising. Tyrah added that the plan will hurt financial stability and aggravate the economic crisis and in a matter of months the cabinet will have to decide on further cuts, this time cutting into "live flesh", transfer payments of the truly needy.
Transfer payments come from state revenue and national insurance payments. The transfer payments are allocated to needy members of the society, such as through unemployment insurance and welfare benefits.
Tyrah said that the treasury's plan increases the tax burden by 50%, which means another NIS 3 billion that the business sector will have to pay. Association of Contractors & Builders in Israel President Samuel Olpiner said that the government isn't serving as a model and that it should abolish the positions of at least 10 ministers. Olpiner said that the Knesset and the government are detached from the people and everyone is doing whatever they so choose.
There is big pressure from the members of the council to declare a tax revolt, Tyrah said, adding that plants can't further increase their tax burden to an extent that their economic viability is eroded.