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OECD catches Israeli Finance Minister Lapid in apparent lie

Finance Minister Yair Lapid raises taxes on alcohol, then claims it was because of a binding agreement with the OECD. Problem is, the OECD has no clue what he’s talking about.

Yair Lapid (photo: Yotam Ronen /

After only a few months in office, local news and social media arenas seem to be catching Finance Minister Yair Lapid with a new faux pas almost daily. Be it wrong economic figures, misunderstandings, misquotes or others – Lapid just can’t seem to keep up the appearance of someone who actually knows what he’s doing.

But if until now his unfortunate mishaps were limited to the scrutiny of domestic critics, today he opened an overseas front. Calcalist, Israel’s largest financial daily, published a story [Heb] Monday concerning Lapid’s decision to raise taxes on alcohol. The move was greeted with an uproar in Israel because it almost doubled the price of cheap liquors consumed by the lower and middle classes (such as arak) and brought down taxes on beverages enjoyed by the wealthy, such as cognac. In early July, Lapid said that the decision to raise the tax was not his doing:

This is an agreement that previous Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz made with the OECD, and these agreements must be enacted.

Calcalist turned to the OECD, and this is the response they got:

We do not force, and we even do not recommend, any rule or policy in this area. There are no tolls that are legally binding, and not even recommendations, concerning alcohol taxation specifically or consumer taxes of any sort.

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    1. The Trespasser

      Good-looking and smooth-talking idiot would remain an idiot even if elected.

      Reply to Comment
      • rose

        an idiot that call another person ‘idiot’ is funny. at least he is good looking.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          What is truly funny is that you know how to use a computer.

          Reply to Comment
    2. sh

      The Ramat Aviv and Raanana brothers-in-grey-suits are nicely filling the faux-pas gap left by Tsemed Ben-Ari and Eldad. Bibi must be delighted.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Danny

      I’m not sure who’s dumber – Lapid or the hundreds of thousands who voted for him.

      Anyway, we can only hope that with each asinine thing that comes out of his mouth, his chances of being re-elected diminish.

      Reply to Comment
      • Piotr Berman

        This website is so high brow that even trolls know what OECD is and what it does (and that indeed it does not regulate excise taxes). I guess to the majority of the public it is not obvious that Lapid made a mistake here.

        I guess that Israel is dispensing with elitist dogma. It used to be that few Cabinet seats were reserved for idiots as any coalition government must allocate some positions to those. This is the virtue of multi-party democracy, where even the least intelligent can be represented. If I recall Ministry of Tourism and Minister without Portfolio were positions where even total absence of cranial functions could not damage the public at large.

        However, until recently Finance was not deemed to be a fool-proof position.

        By the way, are the any projections for black market production of alcohol in Israel? Home brewing and distilling?

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Beer brewing is becoming increasingly popular, very high quality ingridients are being sold at reasonable prices. Time and effort consuming process that is, but results are most rewarding.

          Speaking of distilling, a friend of mine had brewed and distilled some mango liquer last year. At 60% alocohol it is (was, rather) absolutely devastating.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Most rational voice coming from Israel in years.

      Reply to Comment
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