While others were hailing the sale of Waze to Google as the restart of “Start-Up Nation” last week, Ofer Akunis was thinking of some practical benefit for the country in the near term.
Akunis, who serves Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a deputy minister for liaison with the Knesset, sent a letter to Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday urging that state revenues from the $1.3-billion sale of Waze be used to reinstate tax exemptions for students, Arutz Sheva reported.
In the letter, Akunis writes, “As the person who is responsible in the government for helping students and young people realize their dreams for a career, I ask you to cancel the order that reduces tax exemptions for university students.”
The exemption was canceled as part of Lapid’s “austerity budget,” which will increase taxes and reduce benefits for most Israelis.
Akunis said that the Waze money — which could total as much as NIS 200 million ($47 million) — was not accounted for in the state budget, and that the amount is almost equal to the amount the state will save by the planned cancellation of the student exemption.
He argued that the unexpected sum should be used to help others pursue their studies so that they too will be able to contribute to the nation’s high-tech future.
“In the end, an investment like this will benefit the country,” Akunis wrote. “Software, hardware, and other computer-related engineers are the engine of growth for the economy. They lead the way in innovation and eventually benefit the entire economy with the taxes they pay.”