Netanyahu, Steinitz unveil economic rescue plan
Program involves steps to improve credit, encourage exports and prevent further layoffs.
Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz unveiled on Thursday a rescue plan for Israel's "plummeting" ecomony.
"The economy is like a plane plummeting and we need to stop the fall, and after this give [it] a push upward," said Netanyahu at a news conference he hosted with Steinitz.
The plan consists of five steps. The first two are improving credit, encouraging exports, preventing layoffs and promoting employment; these Steinitz labeled as "curbing" actions. The final three, which aimed at recreating growth, are structural reforms, tax policies and changes to human resources and physical infrastructure.
Netanyahu added: "We need growth drivers, and the main problem of the Israeli economy is that the economy is blocked and the obstacles to competition need to be removed."
Steinitz, for his part, said the government plans to double the state's guarantee for by banks loans to NIS 12 billion.
"We have simplified this guarantee and raised the guarantee, so the banks will be able to expand the credit they give to businesses and individuals," the finance minister said. "This is a step that will take effect next week, and I call on the banks to raise capital and to expand their credit."
Another move announced at the press conference was the provision of NIS 2 billion by the state to funds for the high-tech sector. The state is also to guaranteed an NIS 6 billion aid package to exporters.
On Wednesday, the director of the Israel Employment Service warned that an estimated 130,000 Israelis would be dismissed from their jobs by the end of 2009.