The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry said Tuesday it is pushing for establishment of a fair trade authority as part of ongoing efforts to reform consumer protection in the country. "The field of consumer protection in Israel has until now not received proper attention," said Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai. "I am convinced that the new authority, equipped with more efficient resources and power and a stringent enforcement policy, will transform the area of consumer protection and fair trade for the citizen in Israel in the coming years." This week, Yishai decided to adopt the recommendations put forward by the interministerial committee on the enforcement policy regarding all issues of consumer protection and fair trade, which was headed by former Anti-Trust Authority director general Dror Strum. The interministerial committee was set up in March last year and included representatives of the Justice Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. "The committee examined consumer protection and fair trade policies applied elsewhere in the world and accordingly suggested widespread changes across the field - a new authority, changes in the current law, new norms of fair trade and changes in the system of enforcement and punishment," said Strum. Over the next few days, a selection commission will be set up to search for a director for the new authority, which will include advocates, economists, investigators and managers. As part of the reform, all processes regarding infringements of the consumer protection law from enforcement, investigation to legal proceedings will be handled by one professional body. Furthermore, under the reform, those who fail to abide by consumer protection laws will be subject to high financial penalties and fines by the new authority starting at a basic rate of NIS 25,000 depending on the size of the business. In more severe cases of fraudulent and deceitful behavior towards the consumer, the new authority will act for more stringent criminal punishment of sentencing of between two to three years. In addition, a pre-ruling system will be introduced for suppliers and businesses, who are interested in acting according to the law, to get advice and guidance provided by the new authority. Finally, the processing of consumer complaints will be made more efficient and shorter.