FICC gives Kahlon’s plans thumbs up

Candidate says he needs 15 seats to achieve goal of becoming finance minister.

Moshe Kahlon (photo credit: REUTERS)
Moshe Kahlon
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, a business lobby, threw its weight behind Koolanu leader Moshe Kahlon’s economic programs on Thursday.
Hosting him in is Tel Aviv HQ, FICC president Uriel Lynn said he appreciated Kahlon’s plans for bringing down the cost housing and the campaign focus on socioeconomic issues.
“Every program you’ve put out until now has proven to have serious people behind it and serious thought,” Lynn said.
Though the FICC does not officially endorse parties, Kahlon is the only party leader it has hosted for a questions and answer session among its members. In the last elections, Lynn told The Jerusalem Post that he was unofficially endorsing Yesh Atid, whose leader Yair Lapid went on to become finance minister.
At the meeting, Kahlon reviewed his plans to break up the Israel Lands Authority, eliminate the minimum price method on government land tenders, and take up a fair rental law.
Without being in control of the ILA, he said, he would not sit in a government, though he aspired to hold the Finance Ministry portfolio to address a broader set of issues. That, he admitted, would only be possible if he won around 15 mandates, over double the amount he got in the most recent Jerusalem Post/Maariv poll.
Beyond housing, Kahlon promised to lower import barriers, but give big companies a year or two to prepare themselves for an influx of cheaper competition so as to avoid mass layoffs.
Kahlon vowed not to be cowed by threats of job losses resulting from reforms. “It’s a threat that works on everyone, which is why we pay 30 percent more than in Europe,” he said.
He also said that more competition would be needed in the banking sector, where the top three banks control 75% of the credit. In the US, he said, a bank that gets 15% of the market share comes under intense scrutiny.
In the Q&A that followed, several of the business leaders pressed Kahlon on his stance on settlements and the political process, but he said that, despite his support for a diplomatic solution, it was not his main priority.
“I will sit in any government that will accept our positions on socioeconomic issues: reforms, competition, opening the economy, structural changes. If you signed on, I’m with you; If you didn’t sign, I’m not,” he said.
In addressing further questions, he promised to look into issues regarding Israel’s foreign workers, bureaucracy and municipal taxes.