Knesset due to vote on VAT increase Tuesday

The Knesset is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a controversial measure raising the value-added tax by one percentage point to 18% from June 1, after the Finance Committee backed the measure by a 9-5 margin Monday. Coalition leaders, facing stiff resistance among their back benchers as well as from the opposition, are scrambling to ensure a majority in favor when the full plenum meets. The vote was postponed from Monday due to the wedding last night of MK Tzipi Hotovely. The increase in VAT aims to boost tax revenues by NIS 4.1 billion a year and is part of a package of tax hikes and spending cuts designed to contain a yawning budget deficit this year and next. ‏(Zvi Zrahiya‏)

Gasoline prices to rise 3.4% this weekend

The price of gasoline is expected to bounce back up by 3.4% this coming weekend, just one month after it dropped by 4%, industry sources said Monday. The increase follows a 3.5% jump this past week in the price of gasoline in Europe and the dollar’s strengthening by some 2.5% against the shekel since last month. The price at the pump will rise between 18 and 20 agorot for self-service from NIS 7.26 a liter, and the one-percentage-point increase in the value-added tax will boost the price further. The new price will likely be identical to the price for a liter of gasoline at the beginning of 2013. ‏(Avi Bar-Eli‏)

Debt panel asks public to express views

The publicis being invited by the so-called haircuts committee headed by Finance Ministry Director General Yael Andorn to voice their opinions on possible new rules governing corporate debt restructuring. The Committee to Assess Debt Restructuring Proceedings in Israel, as it’s officially called, was formed two weeks ago by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer. Anyone wanting a chance to address the committee must present a position paper by July 14. ‏(Moti Bassok‏)

Zim sells stake in China container plants

Zim Integrated Shipping Lines said Monday it agreed to sell its stake in two container-manufacturing plants in China to one of its partners for $50.5 million. The company will post a capital gain of $31.5 million on the sale. Zim received a $5 million nonrefundable down payment on the sale. CEO Rafi Danieli said the sale is in line with Zim’s policy to divest its non-core activities ,which haccount for 2% of turnover. The company is also negotiating the sale of its 50% stake in a company that stores containers for a third party. ‏(Yoram Gabison‏)