Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu gave up an idea to close a 1.8 billion shekel ($450 million) budget gap by taxing fresh fruits and vegetables at 16.5 percent. The tax proposal was shot down by a combination of interests representing the poor, the farming sector and good nutrition.
According to Ynet, 62% of adult Israelis are overweight or obese, and the tax would further encourage the poor to buy unhealthy manufactured products rather than fresh produce.
Haaretz reported that without the produce tax, Israeli bead counters will have to look to income taxes to possibly make up the shortfall.
Another Haaretz analysis of the proposed solution – lowering the income tax on Israel’s wealthiest while raising it on the middle class – is here.
The Ynet article, published when the produce tax was first proposed in May, looked into other options to levy on food and spoke to the chairman of the Israeli Ambulatory Pediatrics Association:
“Most western countries are discussing taxing high-sugar, high-calories products in a bid to lower their consumption. In Israel, in a questionable, destructive decision, the government is interested in taxing the healthy foods, whose consumption is vital for children’s health,’ said Prof. Mati Berkovitch, the associations’ chairman.”
(Above: Apples at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. Photo by Daniella Cheslow)