JERUSALEM (Nov. 18)
The government and national Institutions are embarking on far reaching economy measures intended to conserve energy sources and stem the outflow of foreign currency in Israel’s current economic crisis. The matter is considered urgent in view of the austerity economic measures imposed on the public last week. Government officials feel that the examples of belt-tightening should originate on the highest level.
At yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, plans were discussed for the formation of at least four ministerial committees to recommend conservation measures. Finance Minister Yehoshua Rabinowitz announced that he was appointing a committee to examine means for saving petroleum and electric power. He said he would also appoint a public committee to study working conditions at government-controlled corporations with a view to reducing power consumption. Similar directives have been issued by Minister of Commerce and Industry Haim Barlev. He asked the Ministers of Labor and Interior to see whether street lighting and lighting on highways can be cut down.
The Israel Electric Corp. is expected to Issue a ban tomorrow on the use of electric power for display advertising and shop windows after 9 p.m. with severe penalties for violators. Meanwhile, Labor Minister Moshe Baram and Education and Culture Minister Aharon Yadlin, announced that they were closing their Tel Aviv offices. They are following the example set last week by Information Minister Aharon Yariv who closed his Tel Aviv office to eliminate a duplicatory facility and end the fuel-consuming weekly automobile trips between the capital and Tel Aviv. The move, If followed by the rest of the Cabinet, is expected to save IL 4.5 million a year, But it has encountered resistance from some ministers who argue that If they don’t travel to Tel Aviv, many Tel Aviv officials will have to travel to Jerusalem to conduct business with them.
OVERSEAS TRIPS TO BE REDUCED
There was general agreement in the Cabinet that public criticism of overseas travel by government officials was unfair, as one minister put It. “a matter of demagogy in the mass media.” Cabinet ministers stressed that they travel abroad only on official business or for the United Jewish Appeal.
Nevertheless, Foreign Minister Yigal Allon has ordered a series of expense-cutting measures in his ministry. The number of overseas trips will be reduced, the expense accounts of foreign service employes abroad will be cut, their use of cars will be limited and several Israeli consulates will be closed. The first casualty has been the Israeli Consulate in Hong Kong.
Allon announced also that he was cutting down on ceremonial trips abroad by Foreign Ministry officials and that he would not hold the traditional Independence Day dinner for the foreign diplomatic corps next year. Minister of Tourism Moshe Kol issued a general directive for more saving in his office and said his Ministry would no longer hold events at hotels.
LIMIT PLACED ON TRAVEL TAX
The Knesset Finance Committee, meanwhile, appointed a subcommittee to review exemptions to the travel tax and severely limit them. Israelis who travel abroad now pay an IL 750 travel tax plus 15 percent of the cost of their ticket. But there is a long list of exemptions including employes of EI Al, Zim, employes of travel agencies and new immigrants. During the 1973-74 fiscal year, some 35,000 Israelis went abroad without paying the travel tax.
Similar measures were announced by the Jewish Agency Executive last week. There will be a 25 percent cut in the expense accounts of Agency and World Zionist Organization officials and Agency employes working abroad. Emissaries posted overseas will be required to cut their travel expenses by 20 percent. The Executive also announced an 18-month moratorium on hiring new employes and decided not to fill positions vacated by retiring officials.