Labor MK Avishay Braverman vowed to keep Finance Minister Yair Lapid in check Wednesday on his first day as chairman of the powerful Knesset Economics Committee that oversees the Treasury.

Unlike Lapid, who is a political novice with no socioeconomic background or education, Braverman is a worldrenowned Stanford-educated economist. Braverman is a former World Bank executive who was credited with building Ben-Gurion University of the Negev into a world-class institution in his 16 years as its president.

“As chairman of the committee, I will use my experience to oversee the government and help it with reforms that will enable Israel to compete internationally while also ensuring that the fruits of economic growth will trickle down to all the sectors of the population,” Braverman said.

Braverman said he was disappointed that Lapid was focusing so much on making the haredim bear the burden of cuts in the state budget. He said Lapid’s high profile spat with haredim in the Knesset plenum was counterproductive.

“We are dealing with a sensitive, complicated situation,” Braverman said. “I was embarrassed by the finance minister’s behavior in the parliament. `His shows for the press will only spread baseless hatred. The haredim are not the major issue of the economy. It’s ridiculous to make all the budget cuts on their backs.”

Braverman said he wishes Lapid success in drafting the budget but, from what he had seen of it so far via the press, there are no significant changes from the policies of the previous government that Lapid campaigned against.

“I am looking forward to getting all the numbers that could prove otherwise, but so far, I have not found any good news,” he said. “All of the burden is still on the middle and poorer classes. Lapid says his budget is Gospel for the working man, but I don’t think so. I guess there is no messiah after all.”

Braverman said that one of his goals as Economics Committee chairman will be to encourage the development of long-term industry that employs thousands of people, and not just start-ups.

“A book called us the start-up nation, and I like start-ups,” Braverman said. “But then the start-ups get bought by bigger companies and taken abroad. The weakness of Israel is it has remained with just start-ups. Then the companies go to Europe, China, and the US, leaving only low-paying jobs here. We need a policy of growth based on industry and we will get one.”

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