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Finance Minister Eshkol Opposing Cuts in Israel Budget

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Finance Minister Levi Eshkol was reported today standing firm against Parliamentary demands for sizeable cuts in the 1954-55 budget submitted recently by the Treasury to the Knesset. The General Zionists, second largest party in the Government coalition, want an overall 15 percent cut in Government expenditures. The proposed budget calls for a 216,300,000 Israeli pound regular expenditure and a special 145,000,000 Israeli pound development budget.

The Progressives, who are also members of the coalition, are calling for “qualified” cuts in the budget. They insist that the appropriations for health and education be left untouched but say that a reduction in the development budget cannot be avoided. The Progressives also urge designation of a permanent investigating body to maintain efficiency of all government branches.

The draft budgets do not provide for new salary increases. Mr. Eshkol declared that the 20 point increase in the cost of living over the past year, comparing to 29 for the previous year, did not constitute grounds for further increases.

The Government was also reported planning to tighten up tax collections by increasing punishment for convicted tax-dodgers to five years in prison and a 5,000 pound fine.

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