MKs Want to Give Gas Co's an Extra NIS 5B

Yisrael Beiteinu MK Fania Kirshenbaum and Likud MKs Miri Regev and Zion Fanian propose lowering the maximum tax on gas and oil profits from 50% to 40%.

The massive lobbying pressure that natural gas companies bring to bear on MKs was exposed yesterday, when the Knesset Finance Committee read out for the first time the full, amended text of legislation aimed at raising taxes on profits from natural gas and oil production.

Three committee members balked and proposed lowering the taxes on natural gas producers. The companies themselves have demanded lower taxes on the gas they export.

Eytan Sheshinski - Emil Salman
Emil Salman

After an in-depth examination, the Sheshinski committee in its final report suggested an increase in taxes on the profits from exploitation of Israel's natural resources. The panel's recommendations, which were approved by the cabinet and constitute the basis of the bill, are now being discussed in the finance committee.

The proposals have met with fierce opposition from the Finance Ministry, as they would cost taxpayers billions of shekels.

Meanwhile, three of the 17 committee members who have already expressed their objections to the Sheshinski recommendations - Miri Regev (Likud ), Zion Fanian (Likud ) and Fania Kirshenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu ) - proposed Sunday to lower the maximum tax on gas and oil profits from 50% to 40%.

In practical terms, the MKs want to give the Tamar offshore field partners a NIS 4.5 billion to NIS 5.4 billion tax break on just one gas field.