A Year in Office: PM Lists His Gov't's Virtues

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a press conference yesterday in his Jerusalem office to report on his achievements during his first year in office. Netanyahu also holds the title of Economic Strategy Minister, and it was no coincidence that he preferred to focus his statements on economic matters, especially in light of the complexities he is facing in areas such as relations with the United States and the peace process.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz join the prime minister for the press conference, but the treasury was not represented in any form.

Netanyahu was generous with his praise for his government, and for himself in particular: "The cabinet made decisions based on my vision so that Israel can establish itself as an economic and technological power. Under my leadership, the Israeli economy has emerged from the economic crisis. To complete the process we must free it from bureaucracy. "This is a government of action," he continued. "We have made over 1,500 [cabinet] decisions this year. We are acting to launch the economy and turn Israel into a superpower.

"We were one of the advanced economies that insisted on continuing to lower taxes when the economic discourse went in the opposite [direction]. Within seven years, we will reduce the maximum tax rate for individuals by 8% and for companies by 9%," Netanyahu said.

On transportation, the PM said: "We want to complete the rail system that will connect Eilat with Kiryat Shmona within 15 years, maybe much sooner. We will connect the entire country. Today it takes three hours to travel from Tel Aviv to Carmiel by bus. In the future it will take one hour."

He emphasized that his government increased child and old-age allowances, and that he is working to close social gaps, as well as draw the periphery closer to the center of the country. In addition, reforms in planning and zoning will lower housing prices and make more land available to the public more quickly, the prime minister said.