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'Neither Socialist nor Capitalist Pig'

Israel's debt-to-GDP ratio will inevitably rise because of the global crisis, says Bar-On.

"We managed to institute a balanced policy, not pure socialism and not piggish capitalism," said Finance Minister Roni Bar-On in his departing address yesterday, summing up his stint in office.

"We reduced the ratio between debt to gross domestic product," Bar-On told the Knesset. He said he made sure not to overspend while maintaining intense concern for social issues.

Israel's debt-to-GDP ratio will inevitably rise because of the global crisis, Bar-On said. "If Israeli governments, including the one in which Benjamin Netanyahu participated, hadn't taken care to lower the debt-to-GDP ratio, the state couldn't have coped with the crisis," he said.

"Six years ago Israel's debt-to-GDP ratio had been greater than 100%. Today it's less than 78%," Bar-On said.

The outgoing government did the utmost to shield its economic leadership from alien interests, not allowing politics to affect economic policy, Bar-On said. "It wasn't easy because even during the glory days of the former coalition in the former Knesset, several extravagant private-member bills did pass," he added.

In a parting swipe, he noted that the state comptroller slammed the universities this week over their wage practices. But when he had criticized the institutions' budgets for R&D, Bar-On said he'd been accused of being the enemy of academia, a hater of education. "The state comptroller's report repeated what I said word for word," Bar-On said.