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(photo credit: Sponsor)
Following a battle between the ministries of Health and Economy on whether to enable a reduction of prices of consumer products sold in pharmacies by liberalizing import policies to increase competition, Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said on Wednesday that perfumes and solid soaps will be included in the proposed reform.
Deodorants, cosmetics, toothpaste and other products meant to enter people’s mouths would not be open to such parallel imports, and thus are likely to remain relatively expensive.
“Perfumes [and solid soaps] will be excluded from the cosmetics restrictions for a significant period of time,” he told the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee on Wednesday.
This means that if the required legislation is approved by the Knesset, importers and perfumers will not be subject to “strict” regulatory responsibility by the Health Ministry but will remain under “streamlined” regulation of the Economy Ministry until a different policy is set. “We realize that it is impossible to continue restrictions on the import of perfumes and solid soap,” Bar Siman Tov said, thus imports from various countries rather than the official importer would be allowed.
The Economy Ministry argued that pharmacy prices of products such as deodorants, perfumes, cosmetics and hygienic products are 20% higher than in other countries and that there was no difference in safety concerns between cornflakes, pasta and other dry good whose free imports the Health Ministry has allowed and products like toothpaste, which it said would be dangerous if not brought in by the official importer.
Committee chairman Eli Alalouf (Kulanu) welcomed the move, but Reuven Billet, head of the cosmetic division at the Israel Chambers of Commerce, maintained: “Perfume can be dangerous to the public, like makeup and cosmetics.
Suddenly, is public health not important to the Health Ministry? It is submission to demagoguery.
Israel will become the trash bin of the world. You do not care where the perfume comes from?” He argued that a liberal policy would destroy the Israeli cosmetics industry.
In response, the industry liaison of the Treasury’s budget division, Adi Hachmon, said, “The Chambers of Commerce will not take care of public health.”
Bar Siman Tov said: “We have more work to do. We work intensively with government ministries, importers and industry and want to complete the work. We are still in litigation.” He added that “the expectation that at the end of September there will be another cosmetic policy is unrealistic, to say the least.”