Israel is to raise the price of housing in response to a market crash that is threatening to derail its growth.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the decision on Thursday, saying the increase will come after two years of slow but steady growth.
The price of a two-bedroom apartment in Jerusalem will be increased by 15% to 10,000 shekels ($1,000) per month, according to the Finance Ministry.
The move follows the fall in the value of the Israeli currency, which has plunged over the past two weeks and the country’s most significant domestic economic downturn since the late 1980s.
Netanyahu said the price hike will help “stabilize the economy” in a country of 1.2 billion people where the unemployment rate is 10%.
He said the government was also going to raise taxes and “ensure that we are not spending too much money”.
The government had already raised prices of other basic goods such as fuel and food, but the price increase will be the biggest since the start of the recession.
“In the last two years, we have seen the market crash and the collapse of the housing market.
This will help us stabilize the market and prevent us from going into a recession,” Netanyahu said.
“The government is going to take this step, not because we need to, but because it’s necessary.
We can’t continue to grow at the current rate, and it’s a critical step in stabilizing the market.”
The prime minister has said that a large number of companies in the construction sector have lost their jobs in the wake of the collapse in the economy.
The collapse of Israeli business has been blamed for a sharp decline in Israeli exports, as well as for a recent surge in inflation and soaring unemployment.
Netiv Hasson, the chief economist at the Israel Institute of Technology, said that the government would be well advised to spend money to stabilize the economy instead of “wasting” it on buying expensive homes.
“It’s really important to invest in the social safety net, and the economy needs to be stabilized, so that it can move forward and not stagnate,” he said.
“We’re spending more money on social welfare, on education, on infrastructure, and on public safety, but we’re spending it on luxury housing.
It’s an unnecessary waste.”