David Gilo - David Bachar - July 2011
David Gilo. Photo by David Bachar
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The antitrust commissioner will now be able to declare business groups as having excessive economic power and take steps to prevent anticompetitive practices in such cases. The Knesset yesterday passed a bill granting Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo his new powers.

In the vote, 53 MKs were in favor and none against or abstained. Among those voting in favor were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

The law does give - temporarily - two other regulators veto power over the antitrust commissioner's declarations. The supervisor of banks at the Bank of Israel and the commissioner of insurance and capital markets at the Finance Ministry will be able veto such declarations in their areas of responsibility if they think the declarations would destabilize an industry or companies. But they will only have this power until January 2014. Such a refusal must be immediately announced to the public.

The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee made a number of changes to the original government-sponsored law, most of them intended to give the Antitrust Authority more teeth in going after business groups that are monopolistic or harm competition.

MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud ), the chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, said the bill was extremely important and would be a boon to the public as it would create conditions for true competition in the Israeli economy.