Kahlon calls for economic reforms

In an attack on his former party’s leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kahlon pitted the lack of progress on an absence of leadership.

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December 17, 2014 03:25
2 minute read.
Moshe Kahlon

Moshe Kahlon speaking at a Tel Aviv pub, December 5, 2014.. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)

 
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In his push to establish himself as the candidate of economic change, Moshe Kahlon on Tuesday called for steps to restructure the economy, including breaking the Israel Land Authority’s monopoly and splitting up big conglomerates.

“Until there are reforms in Israel, the country will not move. The wheels of the economy are starting to squeak and we must reform nearly every aspect of our lives: reforms in housing, in market concentration and in the diplomatic arena,” Kahlon said at the Price Waterhouse Coopers annual economic conference.

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“I don’t know if someone feels comfortable living in a state where half of the residents earn NIS 5,000 [per month]. It’s not moral and it’s not right.”

In an attack on his former party’s leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kahlon pitted the lack of progress on an absence of leadership.

“People despise the status quo but don’t want change. Reforms are the only way to make a change, a path that benefits a majority of citizens,” he said.

The former Likud member who last week registered his new Koolanu party trotted out a few specific areas where change was necessary, but did not offer plans on how he intended to introduce competition.

The new party has yet to announce a list for the upcoming elections.



“We must break the monopoly at the Israel Land Authority and the oligopolies. A postponed reform is a reform that will never happen,” he said, noting that having one group market 94% of the land holds too much power.

On market concentration, Kahlon said it was untenable for 31 groups to own 2,542 of the economy’s companies, an average of 82 per group.

That number may be on a path to change, given an anti-concentration law that requires “pyramid companies” – those whose subsidiaries have subsidiaries – to break apart in the coming years.

He also recalled an experience from his time as welfare minister in which elderly people in the Galilee said the NIS 500 a month subsidy they received for heat was not enough. The cost of increasing it would have been “only” NIS 10 million, he said, “petty cash for one ministry.”

“Our greatest problem is that we are a rich nation and it’s not trickling down,” he said.

Kahlon’s speeches have previously touched upon lack of credit and banking competition.

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