BoI Bashes PM’s Stimulus Plan

YERUSHALAYIM -
Bank of Israel headquarters in Yerushalayim. (Ester Inbar)

The Bank of Israel on Monday joined the lineup of critics of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏’s “plan to jumpstart our economy, big time,” which he announced on Sunday.

“A universal and indiscriminate distribution [of resources] — such as a grant per child, regardless of income — is ineffective,” it said in a statement.

The Bank of Israel urged the government to think again, recommending instead directing the funds to “growth-accelerating measures whose contribution to economic recovery will be greatest.”

Netanyahu is proposing a stipend of NIS 750 ($230) for all Israeli adults, NIS 500 ($153) for every child, up to four children per family, and NIS 300 for every child beyond the fourth. Wealthier households would not be eligible for the stipends.

On Sunday, the plan was immediately dismissed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz as “a manipulative display.”

“The economic plan Israel really needs has a name: a state budget, which Netanyahu and his representatives prevented at all costs,” he wrote on Twitter.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit reportedly objected on the grounds that it is illegal to launch such a cash giveaway plan during an election campaign.

Netanyahu struck back, castigating Mandelblit for interfering in politics: “Is this election economics? This is election economics because it will help Israeli citizens? Maybe the attorney general will tell me how many vaccines to bring. It is inconceivable to harm citizens’ health because of elections and not to provide for them because of elections.”

Other opposition party leaders also took their shots: Yamina chief Naftali Bennett said the “failing” government “recently prevented all economic activity” and prevented the approval of the state budget.

“Now, before the elections, you suddenly remember?” he said. “The public knows how to recognize fraud and false promises.”

In the Finance Ministry, which was not consulted about the plan beforehand, officials were also quoted by Hebrew media slamming the plan.

“It’s all political,” one senior official was quoted as saying by Ynet.