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Cigarettes, Car Prices Zoom

Smokers and buyers of consumer durables will be the hardest hit following today’s new wave of tax impositions, according to economic analysts. A pack of popular tipped cigarettes will now sell at IL 2.30 instead of IL 1.90, with top local brands rising to IL 3.20 (compared to IL 5.40 for imported king-size filters).

The purchase tax on a string of durables will mean that a Volkswagen 1300 car which till now retailed at IL 45,500 ($7500) will cost an additional IL 2000. A Volvo 144 which till now cost IL 99,000 will rise in price by a further IL 4000. Refrigerators, washing machines and televisions will go up by an average IL 200 as a result of the purchase tax.

In the Knesset debate following Finance Minister Yehoshua Rabinowitz’s budget speech, opposition spokesmen cast doubts on the government’s income estimates. They said that despite the new taxes, income would not meet expenditure, forcing the Bank of Israel to print more money and thereby further fueling the flames of Israel’s 46 percent-plus inflation.

Likud speakers assailed the gross over-staffing of the civil service and public corporations. They ridiculed what they termed the government’s feeble attempts to “freeze” government job openings and moves to dispense with a handful of public employes. They called for wholesale re-training and re-deployment of civil servants in productive jobs in industry. Because of Purim, the debate was curtailed and will continue Thursday.

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