The Finance Committee today (Thursday) discussed for about seven hours the Gush Dan congestion tax law, which is part of the Arrangements Law. During the hearing, chaired by MK Alex Kushnir, members of the committee sought to allow a future application of monitoring technology in the law, which would allow a toll payment requirement depending on the length of the trip in the area, within the congestion rings. And not a uniform charge for each entrance to the congestion center, as the law now provides.
The Knesset members justified the request by saying that according to the plan, a person who enters the congested area for several hours is now required to pay the same price as those who enter that area for only 10 minutes. According to them, this is a violation of equality and the purpose of the law. Therefore, providing such an option in the law should allow the flexibility of making an amendment to the law, if this is technologically possible, without enacting a new law.
There were also opponents to the introduction of such a clause. Amit Amir, Ministry of Justice: “Technology changes from time to time, and we can not predict the developments – but there is a government action here that severely violates privacy. Even if it is not used for surveillance, it allows surveillance. Even if there is a citizen’s consent to install such a system “The law does not allow for continuous monitoring.”
It was further argued by government representatives that the law is based on the outline of the rings, and that introducing such a possibility into the law, even if future – would require extensive changes in its wording.
MK Bezalel Smutrich commented on the issue: “There are technological models that will be much more suited to the purpose, so we ask that there be the possibility. We are going to impose a tax of billions on the citizens of Israel, when due to questions of privacy they stopped all kinds of other alternatives. “
The committee chairman summed up the issue: “I demand to get a wording that allows the state to impose continuous monitoring and taxation in accordance with technological developments and while maintaining privacy.”
Initially, the Treasury also sought to test work trips. Following the committee’s comments, the Treasury announced that they were lowering this clause, when travel for work purposes would not be charged with imputation of a benefit in the employee’s wages. Travel to and from the workplace will be charged with imputation of a benefit. Regarding the costs of the congestion charge that will be levied on taxis when there is a passenger in the contents – a representative of the taxi drivers expressed strong opposition to rolling over the costs to the passenger, noting that this will lead to passengers preferring not to travel in taxis at all.
The Treasury, on the other hand, argued that “taxis are a complementary means of public transport, and the whole idea is to incite more people to public transport.” It was determined that the committee will continue to discuss the issue of taxis, and will determine the policy regarding taxis later in the discussions. The chairman of the committee sought to determine that any change in tax would be brought to the approval of the Finance Committee.
When asked by MK Shlomo Karai, the Ministry of Finance stated that the budget cost for the plan and the planning of the system in 2022 is about NIS 70 million.
The committee’s chairman, MK Alex Kushnir, summed up the discussion: “There are other issues that are not exempt. We will distribute an updated version ahead of the next discussion with the issues that need to be resolved. The ring, and also because there are people who cross the rings just to pass horizontally, or just go in and out. “
As you may recall, one of the most dramatic reforms in the current state budget approved is the “congestion fee” at the entrance to Tel Aviv or in its official name, the “public transportation fee”, according to which starting in 2024 a fee will be charged for entering the Gush Dan during congestion hours. According to the Ministry of Finance, “The purpose of the decision is to join the most advanced countries in the world, which make public transportation a priority.”