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HAGGAI GOLAN/ GLOBES \
Antitrust chief: Consumer boycotts work
SOCIAL PROTESTERS rally in Jerusalem 370.
(photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem)
“I am not trying to prove anything. I am trying to do my job, to protect
consumers from harm to competition in the best way possible, with the greatest
professionalism. I am doing what the economic analyses that we make dictate to
protect the consumer,” Antitrust Authority Director General David Gilo told
Globes Editor-in-Chief Haggai Golan during his interview program on Globes TV
Wednesday. Gilo rejected claims that he is attacking tycoons in order to prove
that he is not their servant.Gilo said that the social protest was a
success, and that it led to the establishment of the Committee on Concentration
in the Economy, the Shani Committee and the Trajtenberg Report. “It is very
important for consumers to organize and make their voices heard, because the
individual consumer is very weak in society; he has no political power, no
lobbyists.”Here are excerpts from the Q&A between Gilo and
Globes.Globes: Do you think that the big groups in the economy count the
Israeli consumer more than in the past? Gilo: Yes. When consumers made their
voices heard and organized, such as by launching a consumer boycott when they
have enough evidence that a product is too expensive for their taste – this
influences suppliers and wrecks their power to abuse their market
dominance.Globes: Some comparisons claim that products in Israel cost
more.Assuming this is the case, if you were to put your finger on the
main reason for this, what is the main reason why products cost more in Israel
than overseas?” Gilo: There are several main reasons. First and foremost,
markets are really over-concentrated, and in many markets there are only a few
players.As I’ve said, part of this is due to the privatization policy
and allocation of state assets in the distant past. The Israeli market is
blocked to imports in many cases, partly due to natural barriers, and partly due
to barriers erected by the government. In any case, we are doing our best with
the tools we have to correct the failures.Globes: Do you think that the
Israeli manager is more piggish than his foreign peers? Gilo: At the Antitrust
Authority, we have the impression from the markets we’ve examined that the cost
of living problem is really worse than in other countries. The Trajtenberg
Committee and the Kedmi Committee reached the same conclusion. This argument is
therefore correct to a large extent: Israel has an especially bad cost of living
problem and an especially severe market over-concentration
problem.Globes: The protest’s symbol, at least initially, was cottage
cheese. As a consequence, you opened an investigation against Tnuva Chairwoman
Zehavit Cohen, who was forced to resign. Where does this investigation stand
now? Gilo: The investigation into the concealment of documents and the
nondisclosure of figures to the Antitrust Authority has been completed and sent
to its legal department. It’s still there.Globes: What are you waiting
for? Will you file an indictment? Gilo: Yes.
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