Steinitz: Plans in Work for Next Wave of Crisis

"We are preparing emergency plans, should there be a second wave of the global economic crisis. We are worried about possible developments in Europe, and we are not resting on our laurels," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Knesset Finance Committee yesterday.

"If God forbid there is another crisis in Europe, it will affect the U.S. and the entire world," he said. Steinitz added that Israel was still at risk and Israel's economic recovery may have started earlier than elsewhere, but still is dependent on the world economy. More crisis would mean a recession here, said Steinitz. Tax revenues fell 3% in 2009 versus 2008, he said. The original forecast was for NIS 202 billion in tax last year, but in reality taxes amounted to NIS 177 billion, said Steinitz.

The ministry has two main tasks: "One is returning to positive growth, and the second is stopping the growth in unemployment and reducing it in 2010," said Steinitz.

Steinitz got into an argument with MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) during the meeting. She claimed that "economics is not just presenting graphs and data, and talking about the praise you received from the OECD.

She then asked Steinitz how the tables he presented were relevant to Israeli citizens. He answered: "When the tables are good, it is irrelevant. What would you say if there was 20% unemployment? Would that satisfy you?"