Netanyahu, Katz, Lapid announce port tenders 370.
(photo credit: Koby Gideon/GPO)
The government on Wednesday published tenders for companies to build two private
ports, one in Haifa and one in Ashdod, to compete with the existing ports in
those cities, accused of corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency.
reforms “will greatly increase competition, lower the cost of living and lower
costs for almost all products that we buy in the State of Israel,” Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said.
“This will also make our exports much
more attractive. Nothing influences the cost of living as strongly as the flow
of products and raw materials and our export goods that go out through Israel’s
Netanyahu issued a blunt warning to the Histadrut labor
federation that efforts to upend reforms would not be tolerated.
will stop us,” he said. “I am not prepared to accept this monopoly.
over. I am telling my friends in the Histadrut and the large workers’ committees
that it’s over. No longer will 2,000 people strangle the economy, paralyze the
country and prevent us from advancing toward the future that awaits
By press time, the Histadrut had not issued an official response to
In May, the Transportation Ministry outlined ways to
subvert a possible port strike, which, according to the Israel Manufacturers
Association, would cost the business sector NIS 340 million in revenue, and cost
the economy some NIS 200m., each week.
More than 60 percent of the
nation’s GDP is represented by the flow of goods in and out of the ports, making
them a crucial gateway for the economy. A study on general Israeli transport
estimated that wages were overblown by 34%.
The ports’ average monthly
wages are the highest of any state-owned enterprises; at Ashdod Port, where
union chairman Alon Hasson stepped down in June over corruption allegations,
they stood at NIS 32,407.
“We will put an end to the reality in which
regional and national monopolies at the ports control the Israeli economy,”
Transportation Minister Israel Katz said on Wednesday. “They not only cost us
dearly, but they also stifle the development of Israel’s maritime transport
The Israel Shippers Council praised the move as “better late
than never,” saying that building new docks would take five to seven years, even
as the current ports lagged behind in necessary capacity.
Minister Yair Lapid noted that the ports were just one of several areas for
which the government was pushing through reforms.
“The most prominent
thing about this government is that we’re here to work, from gas to the ‘going
to work’ program and equality in sharing the burden,” he said.
outlined reforms as one of five growth engines for the economy.
first is reforms, reforms and more reforms in order to cut bureaucracy, increase
competition, lower prices and lower the cost of living in Israel,” he said.
“This is of incomparable economic and social importance and it starts, but does
not end, at the ports. We began with Open Skies, and now we’re going to Open
Seas and this is welcome news.”
The government approved the Open Skies
Agreement to increase airline competition in April, and stood down a brief El
Al-led strike that followed.
The other engines, he said, were Israel’s
natural gas, opening up export markets such as China, integrating ultra-Orthodox
men and Arab women into the labor force, and Israeli technology, “not only in
terms of technological exports, but in terms of wiring the country with fiber
optic cables in order to increase the accessibility of every Israeli boy and
girl to the new world that is developing.
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