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Netanyahu to Combat Price Hikes

Prime Minister calls urgent meeting to fight price hikes after the Histadrut threatens a nationwide strike.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/8/2011, 10:43 PM / Last Update: 2/8/2011, 10:58 PM

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Tuesday for an urgent meeting for Wednesday night to discuss plans to deal with recent price hikes. He invited Histradrut chairman Ofer Eini, Manufacturers Association head Shraga Brosh, and Union of Local Authorities head Shlomo Buhbut.

Eini had warned of a national strike over rising prices. Netanyahu said he would work with the Finance Ministry to come up with benefits to ease the public's difficulties in dealing with the price hikes.

Among the options being considered are: slashing the gas tax, tying the cost of water to income, cancelling the recent rise in the cost of public transport, and reconsidering an increase in the price of bread.

The benefits could be funded by delaying the implementation of other planned tax cuts or by slashing the budgets of multiple government ministries.

The price of bread rose by 3.33 percent Tuesday. The cost of gasoline hit a record high in January, and experts say it could go higher due to political turmoil in Egypt. That increase led to a 3 percent rise in the cost of public transportation.

Riots in Egypt are expected to lead to a steep hike in the cost of electricity as well. Experts are concerned that Israel may face a year of inflation.

Water is more expensive, too, with prices having risen by almost 100 percent, due in part to a severe drought. The government has announced plans for a Water Crisis plan to increase production of desalinated water.