UPDATE 2-Israeli panel pushes higher govt take on gas, oil

Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:55pm GMT

* Committee recommends new, progressive tax on gas and oil

* Exploration companies cry foul

* Final decision requires government approval

(Adds details, background, quotes)

By Ari Rabinovitch

JERUSALEM, Nov 10 (Reuters) - A Finance Ministry advisory committee recommended on Wednesday to raise the government's take on oil and gas revenues in Israel, ending months of uncertainty and upsetting energy exploration companies.

The panel, in its intermediate report, recommended keeping Israel's royalty rate at 12.5 percent while adding a "progressive tax" on companies that ranges from 20 to 60 percent, depending on production yields.

The government formed the committee in April to reexamine its tax and royalty policy after large commercial amounts of natural gas were discovered in Israeli waters last year.

The committee's chairman, Hebrew University economist Eytan Sheshinski, said that much of the world has raised its share of revenues from natural resources, while Israel has maintained the same level since 1952.   Continued...

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