State Comptroller asks to halt 'political jobs bill'

The bill would enable former ministers, MKs and mayors of big cities to be appointed to directorates of state-owned companies.

June 29, 2017 20:24
2 minute read.
Joseph Shapira‏

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira‏. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira asked the Knesset on Thursday to stop the advancement of a bill that would enable former ministers, MKs and mayors of big cities to be appointed to directorates of state-owned companies.

Currently, such politicians are prohibited from receiving such appointments, unless they prove to have special skills needed for the post. Experience in the cabinet, the Knesset or as a mayor is seen as political – which makes it harder to receive approval for such appointments – rather than as providing management experience in public service.

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Shapira wrote Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that his office was finalizing a report on public company directorates and asked them to hold off with the legislation until the report comes out.

The legislation, a proposed amendment to the Government Companies Law, passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, 42-25. The opposition has called it the “political jobs bill,” because it would facilitate political appointments by cabinet ministers of their allies to patronage positions.

“It’s corrupt that the ministers will appoint their friends,” Yesh Atid MK Yael German told the plenum. “It’s corrupt for the Knesset [members] to pad their pockets and the pockets of those who come after them. The directorates will not function well and will be corrupt.”

But coalition chairman David Bitan, who proposed the bill that advanced on Wednesday, told the plenum that it is intended to fix distortions in the law that disqualify good candidates just because of their political connections and experience.

“Calling it a political jobs bill is intended to make the public not like the bill,” Bitan said. “All the criticism is demagoguery and is intended to perpetuate the rule of the clerks.”

Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich said it was wrong of Shapira to interfere in the legislative process and to refer to the measure as the “political jobs bill” in his letter.

The bill caused tension in the Labor Party leadership race after former environmental protection minister Avi Gabbay challenged his fellow candidate, Labor chairman Isaac Herzog, on Tuesday to oppose the proposal.

Herzog responded by sending Gabbay a letter informing him that the Zionist Union faction had already decided on Monday to oppose the legislation, in the faction’s weekly meeting, in which it decides its views on each week’s legislation.

In the letter, Herzog wrote that Gabbay had no experience as an MK and did not understand the legislative process. Herzog wrote that Gabbay’s inexperience would prevent him from functioning well as leader of the party.

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