The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry rejected the findings of the State
Comptroller’s Report on food prices
Wednesday, saying it had responded to the
claims contained in the document during the past year and had taken “significant
steps” to deal with the issue.
It pointed out that one of the first
things Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon did after entering office was to
order, together with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, the establishment of the
Kedmi Committee on food prices.
The Kedmi Committee published its final
report in July, which will be brought to the cabinet soon for approval. It
recommended that the state restrict the market share of leading suppliers and
retailers, reduce customs duties and increase consumer protection.
the state comptroller focused on the impact of doing away with price supervision
on certain products, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry statement said,
Kedmi examined “all the components of the food industry” and found that several
market failures were behind the soaring prices.
The statement pointed out
that Kedmi instructed Simhon and Steinitz to compile a list of basic products to
be placed under temporary supervision until the report’s full
Simhon expressed anger at the manner in which the
Comptroller’s Report was released to the media. He argued that it was
unprecedented for the report to be released before its official release date and
without notifying the relevant ministers beforehand. Several media outlets
published the contents of the report prior to its official 4 p.m. Wednesday
“This conduct is hard to understand. It would have been fitting
for publication on one of the most important matters on the daily public agenda,
on the eve of the holidays, to be made in a fair and respectable manner,” Simhon
The Treasury said in its official response that last year’s
Trajtenberg Report on reducing the cost of living concluded that price
supervision was a partial and inefficient tool that should only be used as a
temporary solution. It added that implementation of the Kedmi Report
recommendations would reduce the price of raw milk by 15 percent, encourage
competition and reduce prices of other products being sold to
Massive consumer protests over the cost of living were held
last year, putting the issue on the government agenda. The protests broke out in
June following a boycott of Israeli-manufactured cottage cheese by Facebook
Itzik Elrov’s “consumer movement,” which led the dairy boycott,
said in a statement prior to the report’s release that it hopes the state
comptroller identifies the real problem: “that corrupt government bureaucrats
have given businesses a ‘license to exploit.’” “The gatekeepers that were
supposed to protect our pockets have acted to the benefit of the price hikers,”
the statement said. “The public will fight these government officials and the
corporations that increase their unfairly and unashamedly increase their
Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich called the report a
“serious indictment” against the government, saying that this proves it
abandoned the nutritional security of the Israeli public to market
“Even when it saw that prices were increasing by dozens of
percentage points, the government continued to remove supervision and with its
own hands caused prices to rise,” Yacimovich said, referring to yellow and
cottage cheese, among other products.
“All the more so, the government
did not think for even one moment to supervise basic products that were not
already under supervision, and therefore those products saw an exceptional
rise,” she added, explaining that these products included cocoa, margarine,
black coffee and chocolate.
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