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Housing cabinet approves plans to boost housing supply


By Niv Elis

The housing cabinet on Monday approved two plans to boost housing supply and bring down the cost of apartments, particularly for young couples and first-time buyers.

“Our younger generation has rights, not just obligations, ” Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said. “A roof over your head is a basic right, and it’s our duty to supple one.”

The plans will produce a “massive supply” of apartments aimed at young couples, both in the periphery and high-demand areas, he said.

The first of the plans will broaden a mechanism for doling out subsidized state land to developers who promise the lowest cost for their units. Young couples who are first-time buyers will have first dibs on the apartments, on condition that they do not sell them for five years.

A tenth of the apartments wil lalso be designated for local residents. The land subsidies can go as high as 80 percent of the appraised value of the land, benchmarked from the beginning of June.

In areas where the scheme is expected to have less of an impact, the state will also offer development subsidies of NIS 40,000 to 60,000. The Finance Ministry estimated the grants and subsidies of the whole program would amount to NIS 200,000 on average per apartment unit.

The second plan will allow construction projects that are already in the works to expand by 20% without needing additional approvals. The temporary order, which will apply to buildings that do not yet have a frame built, allows developers to get on=the=spot approval to add more units, on condition that half those units are small apartments (under 75 square meters) appropriate for young couples, and none of the units exceeds 150 sq.m.

The plan is intended to make a quick push for new apartments using existing infrastructure, thus sidestepping the lengthy and costly approval process and need to build further infrastructure to accommodate new buildings.

Local authorities will exact a fee from increased building that they can use toward developing public spaces.

Overall, the Finance Ministry expects its initiatives to get 82,000 units into the planning process by the end of 2015, 45,000 of which will be on state land. The Bank of Israel has estimated that the country needs roughly 40,000 to 45,000 construction starts each year to meet the growing demand for housing.

The plans must still be approved by the Knesset before becoming law.

 


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Gasoline prices set to rise NIS 0.10 on Thursday night


By Hedy Cohen

Globes

The price of a liter of 95-octane gasoline at self-service pumps in Israel is set to rise NIS 0.10 to NIS 6.62 on Thursday night at midnight, May 1, sources in Israel’s energy market believe. The rise is caused by higher oil prices on global markets.

This would be the third consecutive month that fuel prices have risen in Israel after falling sharply to their lowest level in five years in February.

On global markets, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) has reached a three – month high of $57.15, and a barrel of Brent crude is selling for $65.28, a three-month high. Prices are influenced by growing demand, dwindling supply and Middle East tensions.

The price of gasoline fell by NIS 0.63 per liter at the beginning of January, by NIS 0.15 at the beginning of December and by NIS 0.27 at the beginning of November due to the decline in the price of oil on world markets.


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Gasoline prices to fall sharply at end of month


By Hedy Cohen

Globes

Gasoline prices will fall by about NIS 0.55 to NIS 0.60 per liter at the end of December, according to energy-market sources. The fall follows the 40 percent plunge in oil prices on world markets over the past few months.

The price of a liter of 95 -octane gasoline at self-service pumps is currently NIS 6.90, after falling by NIS 0.15 at the beginning of December and by NIS 0.27 at the beginning of November.The pice of a liter of 95-octane gasoline at sef-service pumkps will be about NIS 6.30 from January 1. Fuel prices in Israel are now at their lowest in more than four years.

However, the price of oil on global markets is not responsible for 100% of the price at Israeli pumps. The price of oil on the Lavera international oil market in France, four days before the start of a new month, is responsible for only 35% for the price set on the first of each month. The biggest component in the price is the excise tax imposed by the Finance Ministry, which comprises 41% of the price we pay for gasoline, diesel and other fuels.