JERUSALEM (Dec. 20)
Israelis were hit this week with sharp hikes in the price of gasoline, home heating oil and industrial fuel and higher rates for electricity and water are imminent. The fuel prices went up by an average of 30 percent, effective at midnight Tuesday. The increases were ordered by Finance Minister Yigal Hurwitz’s “economic cabinet” which met Tuesday evening.
Israeli motorists are now paying IL II3 for a gallon of gasoline, a 26 percent increase. More than a third of the price is tax. Heating oil went up by 30 percent and industrial fuel by 35 percent.
At the same time, the Knesset’s Finance Committee agreed on a 32 percent increase in the price of electricity for both private and commercial consumers. Water rates are expected to jump by 16. 8 percent to cover higher pumping costs. These increases will be followed inevitably by an increase in bus and taxi fares, according to economic experts.
Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai went on the radio at midnight Tuesday to announce the bad news on fuel and to justify the Cabinet’s action. He said the higher prices were required to cover the increased prices for crude oil announced by some of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members in advance of the cartel’s price-setting meeting this week in Caracas, He said the increases were also necessitated by the decline of the Pound to the dollar since the last fuel price rises. two months ago.
Modai offered some consolation. He told the harried consumers that in some European countries which he did not name — motorists pay even more for gasoline. Economists said today that the latest increases will raise the cost-of-living index by some five percent at a time when inflation is running at an annual rate of about 150 percent.
ELECTRIC WORKERS SHOCKED
Meanwhile, a major labor relations problem arose today when the National Electric Corp. board of directors announced a decision to limit the Free supply of electricity to its 7000 employes. Up to now, electric company employes paid no electric bills no matter how much electricity they used in their homes.
That privilege amounted to hundreds of Pounds per month per household Now, however, their free consumption will be limited to 400 kilowatts per hour which is still double the average private consumption. The employes will be billed on a sliding scale for the power they consume in excess of that amount.
The electric workers reacted angrily. They denounced “unilateral decisions” affecting their wages. A spokesman for the workers said they were ready to negotiate and ” do our bit to help the national economy.” But they will not tolerate.” a one-sided violation of the work agreement.”