The Industry Trade and Labor Ministry on Tuesday announced the appointment of the head of the newly established Fair Trade Authority in a first step to get it started on its job of protecting the rights of Israeli consumers.
The ministry finally announced on Tuesday that 44-year-old attorney, Amnon Merchav, was selected to head the new agency, which will be going after commercial offenders. The Fair Trade Authority was formally established by government decision back in 2005.
Industry Trade and Labor Minister, Binyamin Ben Eliezer, said that the establishment of the Fair Trade Authority sends a strong message to the consumer public and the merchants in Israel.
"I plan to make it strong and enable it to be an agency with enforcement authority and 'teeth,' and therefore I placed it as one of the top priorities of my ministry's agenda. I am positive Amnon Merchav will succeed in establishing the new authority, since he brings with him rich experience that is relevant for the post."
Merchav a criminal lawyer and owner of a legal office served in the past as deputy mayor of Modi'in and managed the Modi'in economic company.
"The Fair Trade Authority will bring about a revolution in several central consumer issues; it will increase and make more efficient the oversight and enforcement of commercial laws by coordinating field and staff work," said deputy minister of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry Orit Noked. "The authority will be the central address for businesses, merchants and consumers who face consumer related issues and will act to identify 'national plagues' that need fighting. The authority will be a powerful and dominant body, based on the model of the Israel Securities Authority."
Noked added that the authority will be able to lay heavy fines, of tens and hundreds of thousands of shekels on any violation or transgression of the Consumer Protection Act.
"The establishment of the authority places Israel alongside other countries of the world who put consumer rights on the national agenda," said Noked.
Talking to The Jerusalem Post, Industry Trade and Labor Ministry director general Sharon Kedmi, explained that the process of transforming the authority from a theoretical idea to a functioning agency would likely take a year to complete.
"If we are really efficient at passing the necessary legislation and building up the personnel, we might be ready by the middle of the year, but our aim is to be up and running by the end of it." Kedmi said that the new agency would be modeled after the government's Antitrust Authority and be a one-stop shop for legislation and enforcement of all issues pertaining to consumer's rights.
"It will be a small, but powerful agency that will know how to work efficiently," said Kedmi. "The concept behind the authority is not to start going after the ice cream salesman that ripped you off by not giving you change, but to address ongoing failures and essential problems."
Kedmi said that the new authority would not take the place of the existing Consumer Rights Council, which will continue to operate, but to augment it's functions.
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