After years of planning, PM announces wide land reforms

New reforms include salary adjustment for ILA employees, ease registering, constructing on properties; 4% of ILA holdings privatized.

By NADAV SHEMER
May 19, 2011 05:57
2 minute read.
Construction

Construction. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The Israel Land Administration will officially become the Israel Land Authority, as part of extensive reforms announced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

The passing of the authority to government control was made possible after Netanyahu signed a collective agreement at his Jerusalem office on Wednesday, alongside Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias and Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini.

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Under the agreement, which was approved by the authority’s workforce, ILA employees will be given one-off grants of NIS 30,000 – and wages will grow by around 20 percent to a range of between NIS 5,500 and NIS 15,850 per month.

The prime minister said the reforms would bring about a “historic change” that would allow the authority to deal mainly with land sales, and to improve its services through the outsourcing of contracts and leasing. Netanyahu promised that the authority would be more efficient than its predecessor, and that it would bring in additional experts, while cutting its workforce and adhering to better management standards.

Some 800,000 housing units will gradually be privatized under the reforms, including 213,000 that have already been sold to private investors, Netanyahu said. He added that the aim of the reforms was to increase the supply of housing land, help speed up market growth, lower the price of construction land, remove bureaucratic barriers and help the government to implement policy in communities identified as in need.

Netanyahu said upon signing the agreement that he had “waited for years for this day.”

“We have a small country and a population that keeps on growing. We have one of the smallest countries in the world. Our territory hasn’t gotten any bigger since 1967, and our population has grown ten-fold. Why don’t we have any supply? Because we have a bureaucratic surplus in this country,” he said.

In material distributed to the press, the prime minister brought attention to a 2010 report that ranked Israel 121st in the world for dealing with construction permits, and 147th for ease of registering property. He also referred to bureaucratic impediments to planning and sales, which he said were to blame for an annual shortage of 8,000 housing units.

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Wednesday’s announcement came almost two years after the Knesset approved Netanyahu’s controversial land reform law to privatize 200,000 acres – or around 4% of the ILA’s holdings – in an attempt to reduce the bureaucracy surrounding leasing land in Israel.

At the time the law was passed, the ILA administered 93% of Israeli land.

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