Leading economists and politicians on Monday raised great concern over the lack of investment in youth and education, and the implementation of structural economic reforms as the basis to secure future sustainable growth. "The real threat is not Iran but globalization," Labor MK Avishai Braverman said at the Herzliya Conference. "The countries of the world will solve the problem of Iran. Our problem is that we have missed in the seven years of strong growth to make structural changes and implement reforms to turn the economy into a competitive place, which will take many years. We still have a duopoly in the banking system. "Another example is the lack of reform in the Israe l Lands Administration. Israel is turning into one of the poorest countries with social inequalities, a bad education system and the lowest salaries for teachers. There are people leaving because they have no employment; everything seems to fall apart despite the potential." Former prime minister Ariel Sharon had cut the higher education budget by a million and a half shekels in support of Treasury ministers Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert, Braverman said, and never returned that money - the source of hi-tech and medicine. "I agree with Avishai Braverman," Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) said. "I am familiar with the day-to-day struggle about budgets with the Finance Ministry that he is referring to. When foreign investors come and want to see where it is worth investing, they ask, 'Why should I invest here? In Singapore, I get better investment grant conditions, as well as developed Western countries.' We need to push reforms to cut red tape and reduce bureaucracy." Yishai emphasized that the government needed to invest in youth and education, and in creating job opportunities in a move to get people out of poverty and close the rising social gaps in the Israeli society. "We have the man power," he said, "but if we do not make good use of it, at the end we will bring ourselves to such an abysm that we will not be able to come out of it." Also speaking at the conference, Prof. Zvi Eckstein, deputy governor of the Bank of Israel, said although Israel's economy was in the best state the country has seen for the past 30 years, it must establish a central policy goal for supporting future growth. "We must focus on specific plans that will strengthen populaces with lower levels of skills, introduce negative income tax, settle the issue of foreign workers and Palestinian workers, and to improve the scope and proper supervision of labor laws," he said. "Regarding productivity, a policy of encouraging new engines of growth and products is necessary in support of the traditional industry - not only the hi-tech sector - and the expansion of the service industry."