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(photo credit: Courtesy)
The lack of competition and a government that does not push reforms are the main grounds on which corruption grows in this country, Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, charged on Sunday in an attempt to raise support from business leaders for his economic platform.
"If we want to achieve sustainable economic growth levels of 7 to 8 percent, we need to implement aggressive tax cuts and speed up reform processes in an effort to remove the obstacles to boosting competition," said Netanyahu during a speech at the business forum of the Bar-Ilan University attended by senior representatives of the business community. "The lack of competition in the economy and the concentration of power in the public sector are leading to the corruption in the Israeli bureaucratic apparatus."
Seeking support from the business community for his economic platform, Netanyahu said that many reforms still needed to be undertaken to boost competition and cut corruption, but first and foremost, within the Israel Lands Administration, which was keeping housing prices sky-high.
"To sustain higher growth we need to remove the obstacles for competition by implementing a three-point program, which would cut down taxes, especially the company tax, cutback the terrible bureaucracy in the Israeli public sector and thus make the government apparatus more efficient and institute reforms to break down monopolies and top of the list is reform of the Israel Land Administration," said Netanyahu. "I have the vision and the will, what I need is the power and your support."
The essence of Netanyahu's plan to close social gaps and address poverty is to encourage support anyone who can enter the work force to do so by creating a competitive environment and a free economy, which he said comes before investment into education.
"The problem of education is there but to focus on education without a free economy will not get us anywhere," he said.
That theory contrasts comments from politicians, representatives from trade and industry and the Bank of Israel, who on previous occasions warned that only by putting the government's focus on education and increased job participation, could the economy be sustained. Improving education, especially among weak sectors of the population, has been viewed as a social and economic engine of utmost importance to tackle the growing poverty levels and maintain the country's main economic asset - the quality of its manpower.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said the country must address the issues of poverty and debt over the next five years, and pay more attention to education.
"What worries me about the longer term is the question of can we maintain our competitive edge, which relies very much on innovation and maintaining a very high standard educational system," he commented, noting that there was substantial evidence that standards have been dropping, which will have a negative impact on long-term growth capacity. "There are dismaying data that come out about the educational achievements of the Israeli pupils and those things are very worrisome - because if we don't maintain our competitive edge in human capital we don't have very much.
We're not rich in natural resources."