Panel Rejects Sharon's Poverty Tax Break

The anti-poverty task force has rejected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's suggestion to cancel the value-added tax on basic food products, as well as a series of other benefits for the poor.

The interministerial task force presented its recommendations to the finance minister yesterday, after four months of work.

It dismissed the tax breaks and other benefits, due to their high cost and the fear that not only the poor would benefit.

The task force recommended subsidizing day-care centers, reducing public transport fares, providing professional training and giving assistance to the elderly, ultra-Orthodox and Arabs.

The cost of these measures are relatively low, and they are to be implemented for many years.

The plan's budget has not yet been determined and is to be fixed by the treasury. However, it is estimated to reach an annual NIS 1-1.5 billion.

The finance minister and prime minister must approve the task force recommendations before they are formulated into a full plan.