Trajtenberg, social protest
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg meeting with social activists atTel Aviv’s Kikar Hamedina on Sunday August 14, 2011. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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The Trajtenberg panel on socioeconomic change will begin a series of meetings today to hear suggestions and proposals from the public. The sessions, which will be held in the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, will be broadcast live on the committee's website, www.hidavrut.gov.il, and on Haaretz's Hebrew website, haaretz.co.il.

After the committee called on the public last week to raise ideas and suggestions, it received about 1,100 requests by people wishing to appear before it or give it information or suggestions.

The committee has invited 10 people to today's meeting, each of whom will have 10 minutes to make a presentation. Afterward, the committee will discuss the ideas. At the end of the meeting the committee will address questions posted by visitors to its website.

The committee said today's debates will deal with issues encompassing several disciplines. During the week people will be invited to speak to the committee's professional staff.

The committee said 29 percent of the suggestions it has received deal with the housing issue, 22 percent with social services, 19 percent with "the system and the socioeconomic policy and general issues," 17 percent with taxation and 13 percent with competition and prices.

The committee said 85 percent of the ideas came from the public, 7 percent from professionals, whose suggestions were about issues in their fields, and 7 percent from various organizations. The rest were from elected officials.

The date for submitting proposals has been extended to tomorrow, the committee said.

Committee chairman Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg said on the panel's YouTube channel yesterday that he would not exceed the state budget.

"Many questions are raised about the insistence not to exceed the budget. What could happen if the public expense grows by only half a percent? So I want to explain. Everyone knows the explanation of the reliable macro-economic policy that enabled us to ford the last economic crisis successfully and grow over time more than most Western states ... but that is not the whole answer," he said.

"The reason I won't allow exceeding the budget goes far beyond that, it's because what is required today is a real change in Israel's priorities. The public wants more education, housing solutions and looking after toddlers. What can we do, we have a state with one product and anyone who wants more from one thing must have less of another. The easiest thing to do would be to open the tap a little and say let's give a little more to this one today, it will calm things down. No, it doesn't work that way. We need a real change. Real change will come only if we set tough boundaries that will force the political system and all of us to say yes to one thing and no to another. This goes far beyond the formality of one fiscal rule or another."