'Boost lo-tech to aid long-term growth'

One of the economy's major problems is that "high technology sectors grow very fast in comparison with the other sectors of the economy, which grow slowly," the conference concluded last year.

By DANIEL KENNEMER
June 13, 2006 08:28
1 minute read.

 
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Caesarea Forum researchers plan to present Israel's decision makers with a program to strengthen traditional industry and services as a means of ensuring sustained economic growth. One of the economy's major problems - alongside an expanding underclass - is that "high technology sectors grow very fast in comparison with the other sectors of the economy, which grow slowly," the conference concluded last year. Consequently, researchers led by Israel Democracy Institute Chairman Eli Hurvitz prepared a program to strengthen the economy by promoting the more slowly developing technological sectors. The researchers will offer the program at the annual event which will be held in Jerusalem from June 20-22. First, macro-economic policy tools must be applied to encourage productivity in traditional industries and increase participation in the work force, the group told reporters ahead of the event. To bring more haredim into the job market, the Tal Law should be implemented, welfare allowances kept low, and hi-tech companies encouraged to create jobs in haredi strongholds. To enable more Arab-Israelis and inhabitants of more isolated regions of the country to find jobs, efficient transportation infrastructure must be built and the number of foreign workers reduced, alongside government intervention to help reduce discrimination. Also, the Chief Scientist's Office must encourage penetration of new technologies in traditional industries by promoting cooperation between industry and hi-tech companies, the researchers said. The third component of their plan would be to encourage projects that seek to harness Israeli industry's comparative advantages, such as computerizing the health system or building the tourism sector on the country's multi-millenial history. Finally, Hurvitz's team advocates change in the institutional structure of how research and development is managed in Israel, through the establishment of a socioeconomic authority under the Prime Minister's Office focusing on efficient use of R&D budgets and forming synergy between technological organs in government, industry and academia.

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