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Bar-On commits to return Israelis to work

February 26, 2008. Globes: Zeev Klein

"If you continue to shout that a mother of eight cannot work, they'll end up believing you."

The flow of growth to the poor is a trickle. I agree with this adage. I agree that growth does not spread through the entire population, and the rate of penetration of growth to the poor is too slow," said Minister of Finance Ronnie Bar-On yesterday. He made the comment at a meeting of the Knesset social lobby, headed by MK Eliahu Gabbay (National Union-National Religious Party).

Bar-On continued, "It is the job of the government to ensure that the fruits of growth reach the poor."

Bar-On noted, "It is both necessary and possible to reduce poverty in Israel. But it won't come from on high. It's first necessary to encourage work and jobs, and only afterwards pensions. At the end of the day, the issue of pensions is a matter of perception. The prevalence of poverty among families with 12 members is no more than 3%."

Bar-On added that he was proud to state that Israel's growth was continuing. "The number of jobs is rising as is the proportion of people in the labor force. The proportion of elderly poor is also declining, and the number of poor households is more or less stable."

Bar-On said that he would get Israelis back to work, and that reducing the number of foreign workers would create jobs for Israelis and raise their salaries. As for a claim by MK Shmuel Halpert (United Torah Judaism) that a mother of eight cannot find work, Bar-On replied, "If you continue to shout that a mother of eight cannot work, they'll end up believing you."

Bar-On promised that he would try to solve the problem of the working poor and among those who cannot work. "The best solution is to increase participation in the labor force. The negative income tax program is the solution. We promise a fair wage to those who don’t earn the minimum wage. We're also proposing mandatory pensions for the right to grow old with dignity," he said.

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