Aridor Announces Price Hikes on Some Goods, Reductions on Others

– New Finance Minister Yoram Aridor’s first public appearance yesterday since taking over the post last week was to announce increases in the price of dairy products, meat, electricity, fuel and other items and a reduction in prices of colored television sets, refrigerators and small cars.

His move was hailed by government supporters as a step toward reducing inflation by cutting government expenditure for subsidies and taking in more money from larger sales of durable items. But it was immediately castigated by labor leaders and Histadrut Secretary General Yeruham Meshel who said that Aridor was helping the rich while harming the poor.

As of midnight last night dairy products, except milk, rose in price by 12 percent; bread, a part from standard loaves, increased by 22-27 percent; meat except frozen chickens, was up 10 percent; water, by six percent; electricity, by 10 percent; and heavy fuels, kerosene and domestic cooking gas, by 10-15 percent. Gasoline prices remain unchanged.

The decreased price of durable goods, ranging from eight to 15 percent on color television, refrigerators, washing machines, cooking stoves and some cars were the result of a reduced sales tax.

Aridor explained that the reductions would be in force for three months, during which time the Treasury hoped to take in larger amounts in customs duties as a result of anticipated increased sales abroad. Manufacturers complained, however, that the increase in the price of heavy fuel on which much of their production is based, would inevitably lead to higher costs which would have to be passed on to the consumer.

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