The cabinet on Sunday approved the formation of a new ministerial committee to “fight the high cost of living,” which is set to meet late this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The committee will set “unified government policy” and coordinate between the ministries on the issue, including, among others, “steps to increase competition, reduce [economic] concentration, improving and reducing regulation on different economic sectors and lifting limits on import,” according to the text of the cabinet decision.
The committee will also “examine the legal and regulatory arrangements” that affect the cost of living, and it will “develop proposals for structural changes and reforms.”
It also intends to direct the Israel Competition Authority to provide a layout of the levels of competition in the economy’s different sectors to supply the ministers with a “broad and dependable factual basis.”
The committee will be led by Netanyahu and include 12 other ministers, including committee deputy chairman Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party), Economy Minister Nir Barkat (Likud), Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Avi Dichter (Likud), Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman (Likud) and Energy Minister Israel Katz (Likud).
It will also include the directors-general of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance, Economy and Agriculture ministries, the head of the National Economic Council, the head of the Finance Ministry’s budget department and the Bank of Israel governor.
“We will develop plans, lead reforms and act with all methods to ensure that the government carries out all of the necessary actions – opening markets, reducing barriers, acting on distributors, importers and suppliers – to lower the prices and the cost of living for the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the cabinet meeting.
Development of the Negev and Galilee and National Resilience Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf (Otzma Yehudit), also a member of the committee, said: “The committee’s formation is the method, not the goal, and we will act to provide solutions and implement them. I will act as a member of the committee to promote necessary solutions to lower the high cost of living, which is a burden on the citizens of Israel.”
Forming another committee is not the solution
Last week, after Netanyahu announced the cabinet’s intention to form the committee, opposition MKs said such a committee already exists: the socioeconomic cabinet, which the prime minister leads and which was not convened since the government’s formation last December. Forming another committee was not the solution, but rather an attempt to show that the government is doing something, the opposition MKs said.
“There is no doubt that this bad government is good at one thing – making up titles and committees to cover up their lack of caring about the public,” Labor MK Naama Lazimi said.
“Netanyahu, the citizens of Israel do not need another committee that will conceal your lack of vision and action,” she said. “They need a work plan, acknowledgment of the difficult reality of the high cost of living and housing crisis, and a change of economic paradigm – things you will never know you will be able to give them. Resign.”
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman wrote on Twitter: “Instead of Bibi forming another committee to examine the high cost of living, a national committee of investigation should be formed to examine how in just five months, after leaving behind an Israeli economy that is one of the leading and strongest economies in the world with a budget surplus of approximately NIS 10 billion, this mad government is leading us to an economic tsunami.”