Call to Regulate Water and Electricity
Knesset Finance Committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni called on the government Wednesday to reinstutue regulation of water and electricity prices - subsidizing both if need be.
Gafni also blasted those who said citizens should pay 'cost' for water and electricity irrespective of how high prices may go.
"These products are so very basic," Gafni said. "The state does not require citizens to pay 'cost' on health or education - so how, you ask, do they do so for water and electricity prices, which are the most basic needs?"
Gafni, citing the rising cost of living and basic services in recent years - which he said constituted an indirect tax - was a particular hardship for the sick and disabled, who earn less, but consume more water to maintain their health.
"When you see the differences in wages, there are executives watering their gardens who do not even think about their water bill, and in contrast, we have disabled citizens who do not know how to pay their own inflated bills," he explained.
"The social protests have relaxed a little, but will return in greater strength in six months," Gafni warned. “You cannot say there is equality in this country, when the wealthy have easy access to education and healthcare, but ordinary families are unable make ends meet and need water subsidies from the state."
Deregulation of water and electricity in Israel has led to outcry over repeated price hikes in the past two years, which consumers say are predatory.
Most recently, Israel's electric company announced it would raise prices yet again because it was not meeting revenue goals due to consumers using less energy in response to its previous price hikes.
Consumer advocates say this creates a vicious cycle in which Israeli consumers are constantly paying more for less so that formerly public companies can meet inflated profit goals.
During the meeting Gafni told Minister of Social Affairs, Moshe Kahlon, "you sing the familiar tune of social distress personally, but in your government is betraying its citizens when the government abdicates responsibility for managing basic products."
"You are the minister in charge of welfare! The state should regulate prices and subsidize the cost of water and electricity just like it state subsidizes health and education. These price increases are cruel, arbitrary and outrageous."