Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg published part of the introduction to the Trajtenberg
Committee’s report on solving socioeconomic problems on Sunday, one day ahead of
the report’s official release.
In a post on his committee’s website,
Trajtenberg promised changes in four main areas, all of which he said were
directly connected to the grievances raised by the the summer-long wave of
protests that triggered the committee’s establishment: housing, competition and
the cost of living, social services and taxation.
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“The new breed of
Israelis of summer 2011 presented to us on a silver plate that rare and
wonderful opportunity to instigate change and to establish a fairer and more
just society,” said Trajtenberg.
“We did the best we could to translate
their wishes into reality. We are fully confident that the ensemble of
recommendations are strong, unprecedented in scope and have the power to
kick-start long-awaited change.
“There is no doubt that we couldn’t
suggest responses to every problem, or even to most of them,” he admitted, “but
the focus on a few central topics has the power to ease the cost of living,
expand the availability and scope of social services, help provide suitable
housing, expand competition and fairness in the economy to the benefit of
consumers, and lower inequality.”
In its introduction to the report, the
Trajtenberg Committee listed several guiding principles it said the government
should adopt as part of its socioeconomic policy.
“In addition to firm
adherence to basic fiscal rules, the government must increase the share of
civilian expenditure in the budget,” the committee recommended.
government must fix and then regularly update social goals alongside traditional
macro-economic goals, including quantitative goals on increasing employment and
lowering poverty and inequality.
“Economic growth is the key to enabling long-term supply of
Israeli society’s growing needs,” it said, but warned that the government must
also take note of the measures of quality of life that are not reflected in
growth statistics, such as income disparity, health and the
“An important aspect of quality of life is the level of
economic inequality,” the report said. “High levels of inequality create a
feeling of injustice, exclusion and alienation, which are likely to harm social
cohesion... From now on economic policy must strive for fair distribution of the
fruits of growth, including distribution of returns for capital and returns for
labor, and between senior employees and run-ofthe- mill workers.”
committee recommended that the government emphasize the integration of all
sectors of the population into the workforce, with a particular focus on
increasing the participation of haredi men and Arab women, “while also
respecting their ways of life.”
“Their rapid integration into the
workforce, which will give them a respectable livelihood, is critical for the
continued prosperity of Israeli society and the economy, and will extract these
sectors from the cycle of poverty.”
Just one week after a committee on
economic competitiveness published its own findings, the Trajtenberg Committee’s
report will again remind the government of the need to fight against market
concentration, monopolistic force and defense of employees’ rights.
report’s introduction also emphasized the government’s responsibility to supply
public services, and to make them applicable to the changing face of technology
“The outsourcing of some of these public services is
both legitimate and welcome as a means of enhancing their efficiency and
availability to citizens, but only when coordinated with logical planning, with
an emphasis not just on cost but on quality and accessibility to workers, and on
surveillance and enforcement of proper standards.
“The government must
deal systematically with the fundamental failures of the public sector and
government services, and must strengthen planning and policy.”
the committee recommended the government open the channels of discussion with
the public, in order to create what it called “participatory
“In particular it should put up for discussion changes to and
formulation of policy that affect the public, in order to enable the flow of
ideas from citizens to the government, and to strengthen the [citizens’]
feelings of belonging and to strengthen democracy.
“As such, discussion
is required in order to balance the interests of the wider public with those of
the strongest players in the economy, so that they will have access to and
direct influence on decision-makers.”
The Trajtenberg Committee will
present its findings to the government on Monday afternoon, followed by a press
conference at which it will deliver its findings to the Israeli public.