Cabinet approves more of Trajtenberg recommendations

Labor Ministry to approve imports; Standards Institution of Israel will soon have its powers reduced.

Netanyahu and Trajtenberg 311 (photo credit: Avi Ohion/ GPO)
Netanyahu and Trajtenberg 311
(photo credit: Avi Ohion/ GPO)
The Standards Institution of Israel (SII) will soon have its powers reduced, and new regulations will come into effect regarding imports, after the cabinet on Sunday passed amended versions of two of the remaining recommendations from the Trajtenberg Report’s chapter on competition.
Most of the chapter was approved by the cabinet in December, but these passages were excluded at the time amid opposition from the Standards Institution and industry officials. The Trajtenberg Report was commissioned by the government in response to last summer’s protests over the cost of living.
Pending approval from the Knesset, the Standards Institution will be stripped of the power to approve standards for most imported products, and will only still be able to do so for specific products which the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry decides are of importance to the environment or public health and safety. The ministry and the SII will be charged with drawing up a new list for imported products which reflects international standards, rather than existing Israeli standards.
The Trajtenberg Report introduced this recommendation in the belief that the Standards Institution – a non-governmental organization tasked with preparing standards and ensuring the quality of locally produced and imported products – presented a barrier to importation which consequently reduced competition and increased prices.
Sunday’s decision came at the same time as a survey of business people commissioned by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce ranked the SII the second-most plagued by red tape from among eight offices in the public sector.
The institution was rated less bureaucratic than the judicial system, but more than the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, Transportation Ministry, Interior Ministry, National Insurance Institute, Treasury and Health Ministry.
On the topic of import taxes, the cabinet approved Trajtenberg’s recommendation that dumping duties be imposed for a limited time, as opposed to the current policy which specifies no end date. A dumping duty is a penalty imposed on low-priced imports to increase their price in the importing country and protect local industry from unfair competition.
Also Thursday, the cabinet decided that enforcement of labor conditions will concentrate on violations of regulations on low wages, including those committed by service contractors and employers of foreign workers. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said workers who feel their rights have been violated should contact the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry switchboard.