Gov't to invest NIS 1 billion in northern villages

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
Director General of the Prime Minister’s office Raanan Dinur met with the board of local Arab municipalities of the north and presented them with the Arab sector’s share of the plan to rebuild the north. Dinur estimated that about one-third of all funds from the plan, about NIS 1 billion, will be diverted into projects within the Arab sector, another third will go towards general infrastructure, and a third will go to the Jewish sector. Dinur added that most of the Jewish organizations which have been in touch with the government have expressed their consent to donate money to the Arab sector as well. According to Dinur, “they understand like us that the latest war did not discriminate between Jews and Arabs, and there is a need to see all municipalities as one factor.”

The plan, which was approved last week by the special cabinet for the strengthening of the north and Haifa is referring to a government budget of about NIS 2.8 billion. The general plan includes a sum of NIS 4 billion to be invested in the north, and includes the funds from foreign contributions.

During the meeting the chairman of the board of local Arab municipalities Shauki Hatib said that he is not sure that the government funds will get to the Arab citizens, because of the municipalities’ inability to handle such amounts. In response Dinur said that a large part of the budget will be designated to strengthen the municipalities themselves. With that, Dinur added that “we all know that in order to take care of the problem effectively, we need to take care of both sides of the equation.”

Dinur added that there is a need to conduct a self examination not only to the way the Arab citizens are taken care of by the government, but also the low rate of tax collection in the minority sectors. Dinur said it is important that their leaders step up and ensure higher collection rates.

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