Construction in Jerusalem (archive)
Construction in Jerusalem (archive) Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Contractors from southern Israel fiercely opposed the idea of raising taxes and criticized Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's (Likud) subsidized housing program, Israel Hayom reported.

At a conference of Be'er Sheva and Negev Contractors Association, President of the Association of Contractors and Builders Raul Srugo said: "The next government must not raise taxes. If that happens, people will have less money and the cost of living will rise. That will lead us to a recession. We need to lower taxes and invest in the business sector, in contractors, in employment."

"If we build another 20,000 apartments each year, we will close the deficit in the State of Israel - we'll bring in another 12 billion shekels ($3,472,141,800) from the sale of land and income from taxes.

"Contractors produce 13% of the product and we have other occupations which depend on us. We influence 20-30% of the job market. The government needs to make things easier for this industry, because the bureaucracy is killing us."

Construction and Housing Ministry Director-General Benny Dreifus said: "The State of Israel always needs to do more for the real estate industry, and that's not a question. We need to increase the war on illegal building by unlicensed contractors. However, it's the year 2020. We will rethink our job and the job of the registrar."

Israel Hayom also quoted Amnon Merhav, Director-General of the Israel Builders Association, who said: "The Buyer's Price cost the State of Israel eight billion shekels ($2,313,475,920). There's no reason that in Herzliya's Glil Yam neighborhood, a young couple should receive 800,000 NIS ($231,348) as a gift from the State. The State needs to invest these funds in developing the periphery: investing in the interchanges, in public transportation, in employment. The government needs to invest not only in supply, but also in creating demand in the periphery, and until that happens, there will be pressure only on the 'state of Tel Aviv' and prices will continue to rise."

Be'er Sheva and Negev Contractors Association Chairman Eli Avisror said: "I want to hope and believe that a stable and strong government will be elected in the coming elections, and that it will be able to overcome the challenges and the hurdles facing it. The housing issue requires the formation of a 'Housing Cabinet' headed by the Prime Minister."

"We need to decide that we will develop two metropolitan cities, Be'er Sheva and Haifa, in order to strengthen the north and south. Only families which move to the north and south will be eligible for financial and monetary benefits, in exchange for a commitment to live there for ten years.

"In this way, we will be able to fix the distortions which are at the base of the Buyer's Price system, which give a discount of 700,000 shekels ($202,423) to eligible families in the center of the country, regardless of their earning ability, while in the south and north, families only receive a discount of 150,000 shekels ($43,376). The State subsidized land for eligible people in the center of the country, at the cost of billions of shekels."

The Buyers' Price (Mechir Lemishtaken) subsidized housing program offers eligible first-time buyers the opportunity to enter a lottery and win the right to a brand-new, subsidized apartment. According to Kahlon, the program aims to "put an end to the building companies' and contractors' ability to run Israel's housing market."

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