Bennett: Labor kept food prices high because of political interests

Bayit Yehudi chief says Labor has colluded with agricultural sector to keep food prices high by limiting competition.

 Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett
The Labor Party is slave to big unions, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett implied at the Antitrust Authority’s annual conference Tuesday.
“It’s no coincidence that in my two-year term competition opened up because we are not the big unions’ minions anymore.
We can’t go back to the days of no competition; we need to disconnect from past concepts,” he said on the day of Labor’s primary, one day before the vote in Bayit Yehudi.
According to Bennett, past governments made 10 decisions to cancel an exemption the agricultural sector enjoyed from regulation mandating competition. The exemption gave agricultural companies a way around competing on the basis of price.
None of those decisions were implemented because of political pressures, but the latest bill by Bennett’s Economy Ministry will come into effect in May.
“The Alignment [Labor’s name from 1969-1984] wouldn’t cancel the exemption for food products because of political interests and considerations of their primaries,” he stated. “Once the Alignment left power, we were able to cancel [the exemption] in three readings in the Knesset.”
Bennett posited that, while the public used to call for set prices on food products, today it understands that the solution to the high cost of living is competition, and warned that on May 1, the Antitrust Authority will come after anyone who tries to hinder competition.
“It’s natural for a company to aim to have no competition, but our job as a state is to encourage competition,” he said.
The Bayit Yehudi leader also said “business is not the enemy of the public, rather it is the engine that moves the market.”
Also Tuesday, the Social Guard ranked Bayit Yehudi’s MKs running in Wednesday’s primary from most to least socially oriented.
MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli came in first, followed by Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach and Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan.
Deputy Education Minister Avi Wortzman came in last and Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky was second-to-last.
All of Bayit Yehudi’s MKs were in the bottom half of the NGO’s general ranking of the Knesset and only Moalem-Refaeli came in above 90th place, at 60th.