New State Budget to Target Traffic Jams

A typical scene of traffic on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The 2019 budget, which will be presented to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the coming days, will concentrate on funding programs to reduce the income and social gap between various portions of the Israeli population – and in reducing and eliminating to as great an extent as possible energy-sapping and money-wasting traffic jams.

Local authorities will be given more power to push construction of housing along, in another effort by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to reduce the cost of new homes for young couples and lower-income families. For instance, local authorities will be able to authorize the use of industrial buildings no longer in use for housing. One section of the Arrangements Law, which will fund extra-budgetary projects and which will be attached to the budget when it comes up for a Knesset vote, will require certain types of legal cases to be presented to arbitrators before action can be taken in court. The objective of this plan is to reduce pressure on the court system.

Another section of the Arrangements Law will empower local authorities to boost public transportation projects, including assigning bus lanes and allowing for faster rides for workers and students commuting to and from school. According to the Finance Ministry, traffic jams are costing the economy NIS 40 billion a year – and Kahlon is determined to reduce that number, the Ministry said.

In a separate act, Kahlon, together with Bank of Israel director Karnit Flug, presented a law that will enhance competition between banks. Under the new law, customers who wish to change accounts may do so immediately – with the new bank immediately taking control of the customer’s account, even if their money is still physically sitting in their old bank. According to Kahlon, the new law will allow customers to change banks with a minimum of effort, and for the entire process to take a week or less.

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